U.S. Consumer Debt Rises in Fourth Quarter by Most Since 2007

U.S. Consumer Debt Rises in Fourth Quarter by Most Since 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. household debt rose in the latest quarter by the most since before the recession, a sign that Americans may be nearing the end of a multi-year belt-tightening trend, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed on Tuesday.

Total consumer debt rose 2.1 percent to $11.52 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2013 from $11.28 trillion in the third quarter, the New York Fed said in its quarterly household debt and credit report. The increase, $241 billion, marked the biggest quarterly jump since the third quarter of 2007.

Even with the increase, total household indebtedness remains 9.1 percent below its peak of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008, reflecting the extensive deleveraging by households in the years following the housing market collapse and financial crisis. Nevertheless, the report also marked the first year-on-year increase in household debt since the crisis, perhaps signaling that the deleveraging cycle has run its course.

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