The amount of money consumers owe on credit -- excluding mortgages -- grew by $7.7 billion in October, hitting a two-year high of $2.45 trillion, according to a report today. Loans for things like vehicles and education made up more than $7 billion of the month’s increase, according to the Federal Reserve.
Revolving credit, the type of credit that doesn’t have a fixed number of payments, such as a credit card, was up $366 million on September.
Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight, says that strong auto sales motivated the increase in non-revolving debt. "In October, auto sales were at $13.2 million on an annual rate, and even in September, they were relatively strong compared to August," he said. "In November, they were $13.6 million, so that’s going to boost that non-revolving debt quite a bit, because people are still getting loans to finance their purchases."
Chris says consumers are fatigued and want to reduce debt in the face of weak economic growth. So people are still borrowing for to fix the car or get an education, but they’re wary of using the credit card to spend in the tight economy.