Tax Cuts in Hand, Americans Reduce Credit Card Debt

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Consumer credit grew less than expected in March, as Americans reduced the amount of credit card debt they carry.

The Federal Reserve said consumer credit in March grew at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 3.6 percent, or $11.6 billion. Economists had expected $15.2 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Credit card debt declined three percent, the second monthly decline in a row.  This could be an unexpected result of the tax cuts. With many Americans facing lowering tax bills and lower levels of withholding, paychecks have grown even as wage gains have remained muted. As a result, many households may have found themselves needing less credit to pay their bills.

In this sense, the tax cuts can be seen as a debt transfer between U.S. households and the U.S. government. Higher deficits substitute for lower household debt. This lowers the country’s overall debt costs because the government pays far less for its debt than households.

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