Consumer credit decreased at an annual rate of 3-1/2 percent in February 2009. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 9-3/4 percent, and nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 1/4 percent.
So -- consumers are cutting back on credit card debt. This is not a bad thing in the long run. However, this number could be revised lower or higher by a big margin:
Credit in January grew $8.1 billion, revised way up from a previously estimated $1.8 billion rise. And borrowing in December dropped $5.6 billion instead of $7.5 billion.
The February credit drop of $7.5 billion was bigger than what Wall Street expected, which was a $1 billion decline. It was the fourth decline in six months.
The Wall Street crisis and recession have made it harder for consumers, and businesses, to borrow money. The Fed last month rolled out details of a Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to loosen credit and relieve the economy.
Here's a chart of the change:
Note -- and here's a big point -- this does not include mortgage debt.