Consumer debt falls again, led by credit cards
Americans continue to pay down debt at a brisk pace, either by choice or because lenders are pulling their credit away.
Total consumer debt outstanding, excluding mortgages, sank $9.1 billion in May to a seasonally adjusted $2.41 trillion, the 15th drop in the last 17 months, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.
That debt load now has fallen by a net $146 billion, or 5.7%, since the end of 2008.
The May decline was far larger than the $2.3-billion drop expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. What's more, the Fed revised its data for April to show a credit plunge of $14.9 billion for that month. The Fed originally had estimated that consumer debt rose $1 billion in April.
Consumers are paying down their credit cards at a particularly fast pace: Card debt (so-called revolving credit) dropped at a 10.5% annualized rate in May, an acceleration from the 9% pay-down rate of the first quarter.
Non-card debt -- such as auto loans, student loans and other personal loans -- declined at a 1.4% annualized rate in May.
-- Tom Petruno