Same shit, different month. If last month total consumer credit increased by $13.8 billion, of which $14.0 billion went into student and car loans meaning consumers continued deleveraging on their credit card statements (some expectation for a recovery there), then February was even worse. The headline number was great: $16.5 billion, well above the $14.0 billion expected. The problem is that of this number well more than 100%, or $18.9 billion was once again slated for car purchases and paying down "student bills" (not really - as has been reported numerous times before Americans increasingly use student loans as a means to pay for everything else but tuition).
In other words, anyone suggesting that the "surge" in household lending is in any way remotely indicative of consumer hope in a recovery is i) an idiot or ii) clueless and won't even be bothered to read the fine print which once again suggests that the only credit Americans will take on is whatever comes implicitly free, and is certainly not meant to be repaid, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Unlike credit cards.
And putting this in context, in the past 12 months, a record 98% of all credit - $162 billion - has gone into non-revolving debt, i.e., student and car loans. How much has been added to credit card balances? An absolutely meaningless $4 billion, or 2% of total. Shown below, the "consumer recovery" is the bar chart on the left.