The Big Story Blog

U.S. consumers continuing to pay down debt

Posted at 1:24 PM on November 28, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy

We asked aloud today whether the Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy meant Americans still hadn't learn the lessons about buying more than they could afford.

As if on cue, data released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show, happily, that Americans continue to pay down debt.

Most notable from the report:

Open credit card accounts declined by 6 million to 383 million in the third quarter and credit card borrowing limits fell again, partially offsetting some gains seen earlier in the year.

Open credit card accounts for third quarter were approximately 23 percent below the peak in second quarter 2008 and balances on those cards were nearly 20 percent below their highest levels in fourth quarter 2008.

Credit account inquiries within six months, an indicator of consumer credit demand, increased for the second quarter in a row.

Obviously, this data doesn't include data from the weekend or today. But it suggests that while we may be more willing to spend again, our love of leverage has ebbed.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.