At Over $2.5 Trillion, US Student And Auto Loans Hit New All Time High

Following a burst in consumer credit growth in the past few months, driven by both revolving, or credit card, debt as well as non-revolving auto and student loans, in December the US consumer took a breather, and total consumer credit grew by only $14.2 billion, nearly half of last month's $25.2 billion, and lowest monthly increase since February.

Despite the modest slowdown, total US credit card debt was just a fraction away from $1 trillion, and just a few months away from regaining its previous record of $1.02 trillion attained just prior to the last financial crisis.

But while US consumers may have stepped back from a credit-card funded splurge in the last month of 2016, the far more troubling trend in student and auto loans remains, and as the following chart shows, as of Q4, both car and student debt hit all time highs of $1.407 trillion and $1.11 trillion, respectively.

Unless the Trump administration somehow finds a way to contain the unbridled expansion of "cheap" student debt, which is encumbering an entire generation with loans that can never be paid off, we are confident that it will be virtually impossible for the US economy to truly undergo a sustained period of strong growth in the foreseeable future.



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