Interest Rate Roundup

Monday, May 07, 2007

consumer credit thoughts

I don't usually pay a heck of a lot of attention to the consumer credit figures that are published each month by the Federal Reserve. They're released on a pretty extensive delay and they usually don't contain any fireworks. But the March figures were a real whopper ...

* Consumer credit jumped $13.5 billion, versus expectations for a $4 billion gain. The February gain was revised up to $5.6 billion from $3 billion.

* The March increase equates to 6.7% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate -- 9.2% for revolving debt (think credit cards) and 5.2% for nonrevolving debt (auto loans, etc.). Those are some pretty hefty numbers compared to what we've seen recently.

* What's behind the gains? Tough to say for sure. But it could be that the housing ATM has been shut down. Free-spending Americans, no longer able to count on an endless supply of home equity to liquidate, are once again turning to credit cards to finance spending.

Oh and yes, the snoozefest continues in Treasuries. Range-bound prices ... range-bound rates. The next potential catalyst for a breakout would have to be the April inflation reports. We get import prices on 5/10, producer prices on 5/11, and consumer prices on 5/15.


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