Household debt nears $16 trillion despite rising rates and inflation

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  • Consumer debt and credit rose 1.7% in the first quarter to $15.84 trillion, a new record.
  • The increase, which stemmed largely from housing debt, came even with surging inflation and rising rates.
  • Student loan debt climbed by $14 billion in the first quarter, bringing the annual increase to 6.5%.

Even with rampant inflation and rapidly accelerating interest rates, household borrowing climbed to start 2022 and hit a new record, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday.

Consumer debt and credit rose 1.7% in the first quarter to $15.84 trillion. The rise in total household credit was propelled largely by a $250 billion increase in mortgage debt, which now stands at $11.18 trillion, an increase of 10% from the first quarter in 2021.

Credit card balances actually fell during the three-month period by $15 billion but still remained $71 billion, or about 9%, higher than they were for the same period a year ago. Auto loan originations declined in the first quarter after what the New York Fed described as “a historically brisk 2021,” in which used vehicle prices soared by nearly 27%.

“The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) joins activists in a demonstration outside an entrance to the White House calling for the cancellation of student debt in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Student loan debt climbed by $14 billion in the first quarter, bringing the annual increase to 6.5%.

The acceleration in debt overall comes with consumer price inflation up 8.5% over the past year through March, and with interest rates surging to multi-year highs.

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