The “resilient” American consumer seems to be running out of gas.
Americans are still running up credit card debt but at a much slower pace. Meanwhile, borrowing for big-ticket items has cratered.
Total consumer debt rose by $5.2 billion in October, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. That was a relatively small 1.2% increase.
Every time retail sales come in higher than expected, the mainstream media breathlessly reports this as proof that the American consumer is strong and resilient. In his podcast, Peter Schiff explained that these retail sales numbers aren’t a sign of a strong economy. They just reflect Americans paying more for less. And what’s worse, they’re burying themselves in debt to do it.
American consumers continued to pile up debt on credit cards while borrowing for big-ticket items fell into the basement in August.
This is the behavior of extremely financially stressed people.
Americans are worried about a looming credit crunch. That’s a big problem for an economy that runs on credit cards.
One of the reasons for economic optimism you’ll hear bandied about out there in the mainstream is “the American consumer is strong” and consumer spending is “holding up” despite price inflation. But nobody seems to ask an important question: how have Americans been able to continue spending?
In July, the mainstream financial media breathlessly reported that consumer spending was “holding up” based on better-than-expected retail sales. But how did consumers manage to spend all of that money?
They borrowed it.
After a pause in June, American consumers went back to charging up their credit cards in July.
Since price inflation took off in the wake of pandemic-era stimulus, Americans have blown through their savings and run up their credit cards to make ends meet. Now they’re starting to have a hard time paying those credit card bills.
The number of Americans rolling credit card debt from month to month is now higher than the number of people paying their bills in full for the first time ever.
Flashing another recession warning sign, credit card spending suddenly fell off a cliff in June.
American consumers have been using credit cards to make ends meet for months, but with credit card debt at record levels, rising interest rates appear to have slammed the door on spending. Credit card debt contracted in June for the first time since April 2021, according to the most recent data released by the Federal Reserve.
Americans continued to run up credit card debt in May, but borrowing for big-ticket items tanked. This could indicate that cash-strapped, over-leveraged consumers are reaching the end of the rope.
American consumers borrowed another $7.2 billion in May, increasing total consumer debt to a record $4.865 trillion, according to the latest data released by the Federal Reserve.
Despite the high interest environment intended to slow down borrowing, American consumers continue to run deeper and deeper into debt as they cope with sticky inflation.
Consumer credit spiked by another $20 billion in April, a 5.7% increase year on year, according to the latest data released by the Federal Reserve.
After pulling back slightly in February, Americans went back to borrowing on credit cards in March — despite record-high interest rates. This indicates that consumers continue to struggle to make ends meet in this deteriorating economy. It also reveals that the Fed’s monetary tightening is not cooling spending as promised.