Charted: U.S. Consumer Debt Approaches $16 Trillion
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Charted: U.S. Consumer Debt Approaches $16 Trillion

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U.S. consumer debt approaches $16 trillion

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Charted: U.S. Consumer Debt Approaches $16 Trillion

According to the Federal Reserve (Fed), U.S. consumer debt is approaching a record-breaking $16 trillion. Critically, the rate of increase in consumer debt for the fourth quarter of 2021 was also the highest seen since 2007.

This graphic provides context into the consumer debt situation using data from the end of 2021.

Housing Vs. Non-Housing Debt

The following table includes the data used in the above graphic. Housing debt covers mortgages, while non-housing debt covers auto loans, student loans, and credit card balances.

DateHousing Debt
(USD trillions)
Non-Housing Debt
(USD trillions)
Total Consumer Debt
(USD trillions)
Q1 20035.182.057.23
Q2 20035.342.047.38
Q3 20035.452.107.55
Q4 20035.962.108.06
Q1 20046.172.138.30
Q2 20046.342.128.46
Q3 20046.642.208.84
Q4 20046.832.229.05
Q1 20057.012.199.20
Q2 20057.232.269.49
Q3 20057.452.359.80
Q4 20057.672.3410.01
Q1 20068.022.3610.38
Q2 20068.352.4010.75
Q3 20068.652.4611.11
Q4 20068.832.4811.31
Q1 20079.032.4611.49
Q2 20079.332.5311.86
Q3 20079.562.5812.14
Q4 20079.752.6312.38
Q1 20089.892.6512.54
Q2 20089.952.6512.60
Q3 20089.982.6912.67
Q4 20089.972.7112.68
Q1 20099.852.6812.53
Q2 20099.772.6312.40
Q3 20099.652.6212.27
Q4 20099.552.6212.17
Q1 20109.532.5812.11
Q2 20109.382.5511.93
Q3 20109.282.5611.84
Q4 20109.122.5911.71
Q1 20119.182.5811.76
Q2 20119.142.5811.72
Q3 20119.042.6211.66
Q4 20118.902.6311.53
Q1 20128.802.6411.44
Q2 20128.742.6411.38
Q3 20128.602.7111.31
Q4 20128.592.7511.34
Q1 20138.482.7511.23
Q2 20138.382.7711.15
Q3 20138.442.8511.29
Q4 20138.582.9411.52
Q1 20148.702.9611.66
Q2 20148.623.0211.64
Q3 20148.643.0711.71
Q4 20148.683.1611.84
Q1 20158.683.1711.85
Q2 20158.623.2411.86
Q3 20158.753.3112.06
Q4 20158.743.3712.11
Q1 20168.863.3912.25
Q2 20168.843.4512.29
Q3 20168.823.5412.36
Q4 20168.953.6312.58
Q1 20179.093.6412.73
Q2 20179.143.6912.83
Q3 20179.193.7712.96
Q4 20179.323.8213.14
Q1 20189.383.8513.23
Q2 20189.433.8713.30
Q3 20189.563.9513.51
Q4 20189.534.0113.54
Q1 20199.654.0213.67
Q2 20199.814.0613.87
Q3 20199.844.1313.97
Q4 20199.954.2014.15
Q1 202010.104.2114.31
Q2 202010.154.1214.27
Q3 202010.224.1414.36
Q4 202010.394.1714.56
Q1 202110.504.1414.64
Q2 202110.764.2014.96
Q3 202110.994.2415.23
Q4 202111.254.3415.59

Source: Federal Reserve

Trends in Housing Debt

Home prices have experienced upward pressure since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is evidenced by the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which has increased by 34% since the start of the pandemic.

Driving this growth are various pandemic-related impacts. For example, the cost of materials such as lumber have seen enormous spikes. We’ve covered this story in a previous graphic, which showed how many homes could be built with $50,000 worth of lumber. In most cases, these higher costs are passed on to the consumer.

Another key factor here is mortgage rates, which fell to all-time lows in 2020. When rates are low, consumers are able to borrow in larger quantities. This increases the demand for homes, which in turn inflates prices.

Ultimately, higher home prices translate to more mortgage debt being incurred by families.

No Need to Worry, Though

Economists believe that today’s housing debt isn’t a cause for concern. This is because the quality of borrowers is much stronger than it was between 2003 and 2007, in the years leading up to the financial crisis and subsequent housing crash.

In the chart below, subprime borrowers (those with a credit score of 620 and below) are represented by the red-shaded bars:

Mortgage originations by Credit Score

We can see that subprime borrowers represent very little (2%) of today’s total originations compared to the period between 2003 to 2007 (12%). This suggests that American homeowners are, on average, less likely to default on their mortgage.

Economists have also noted a decline in the household debt service ratio, which measures the percentage of disposable income that goes towards a mortgage. This is shown in the table below, along with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate.

YearMortgage Payments as a % of Disposable IncomeAverage 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate
200012.0%8.2%
200412.2%5.4%
200812.8%5.8%
20129.8%3.9%
20169.9%3.7%
20209.4%3.5%
20219.3%3.2%

Source: Federal Reserve

While it’s true that Americans are less burdened by their mortgages, we must acknowledge the decrease in mortgage rates that took place over the same period.

With the Fed now increasing rates to calm inflation, Americans could see their mortgages begin to eat up a larger chunk of their paycheck. In fact, mortgage rates have already risen for seven consecutive weeks.

Trends in Non-Housing Consumer Debt

The key stories in non-housing consumer debt are student loans and auto loans.

The former category of debt has grown substantially over the past two decades, with growth tapering off during the pandemic. This can be attributed to COVID relief measures which have temporarily lowered the interest rate on direct federal student loans to 0%.

Additionally, these loans were placed into forbearance, meaning 37 million borrowers have not been required to make payments. As of April 2022, the value of these waived payments has reached $195 billion.

Over the course of the pandemic, very few direct federal borrowers have made voluntary payments to reduce their loan principal. When payments eventually resume, and the 0% interest rate is reverted, economists believe that delinquencies could rise significantly.

Auto loans, on the other hand, are following a similar trajectory as mortgages. Both new and used car prices have risen due to the global chip shortage, which is hampering production across the entire industry.

To put this in numbers, the average price of a new car has climbed from $35,600 in 2019, to over $47,000 today. Over a similar timeframe, the average price of a used car has grown from $19,800, to over $28,000.

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Mapped: GDP Growth Forecasts by Country, in 2023

The global economy faces an uncertain future in 2023. This year, GDP growth is projected to be 2.9%—down from 3.2% in 2022.

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GDP Growth

Mapped: GDP Growth Forecasts by Country, in 2023

This was originally posted on Advisor Channel. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on financial markets that help advisors and their clients.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early last year, talk of global recession has dominated the outlook for 2023.

High inflation, spurred by rising energy costs, has tested GDP growth. Tightening monetary policy in the U.S., with interest rates jumping from roughly 0% to over 4% in 2022, has historically preceded a downturn about one to two years later.

For European economies, energy prices are critical. The good news is that prices have fallen recently since March highs, but the continent remains on shaky ground.

The above infographic maps GDP growth forecasts by country for the year ahead, based on projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) October 2022 Outlook and January 2023 update.

2023 GDP Growth Outlook

The world economy is projected to see just 2.9% GDP growth in 2023, down from 3.2% projected for 2022.

This is a 0.2% increase since the October 2022 Outlook thanks in part to China’s reopening, higher global demand, and slowing inflation projected across certain countries in the year ahead.

With this in mind, we show GDP growth forecasts for 191 jurisdictions given multiple economic headwinds—and a few emerging bright spots in 2023.

Country / Region2023 Real GDP % Change (Projected)
🇦🇱 Albania2.5%
🇩🇿 Algeria2.6%
🇦🇴 Angola3.4%
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda5.6%
🇦🇷 Argentina*2.0%
🇦🇲 Armenia3.5%
🇦🇼 Aruba2.0%
🇦🇺 Australia*1.6%
🇦🇹 Austria1.0%
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan2.5%
🇧🇭 Bahrain3.0%
🇧🇩 Bangladesh6.0%
🇧🇧 Barbados5.0%
🇧🇾 Belarus0.2%
🇧🇪 Belgium0.4%
🇧🇿 Belize2.0%
🇧🇯 Benin6.2%
🇧🇹 Bhutan4.3%
🇧🇴 Bolivia3.2%
🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina2.0%
🇧🇼 Botswana4.0%
🇧🇷 Brazil*1.2%
🇧🇳 Brunei Darussalam3.3%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria3.0%
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso4.8%
🇧🇮 Burundi4.1%
🇨🇻 Cabo Verde4.8%
🇨🇲 Cameroon4.6%
🇰🇭 Cambodia6.2%
🇨🇦 Canada*1.5%
🇨🇫 Central African Republic3.0%
🇹🇩 Chad3.4%
🇨🇱 Chile-1.0%
🇨🇳 China*5.3%
🇨🇴 Colombia2.2%
🇰🇲 Comoros3.4%
🇨🇷 Costa Rica2.9%
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire6.5%
🇭🇷 Croatia3.5%
🇨🇾 Cyprus2.5%
🇨🇿 Czech Republic1.5%
🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo6.7%
🇩🇰 Denmark0.6%
🇩🇯 Djibouti5.0%
🇩🇲 Dominica4.9%
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic4.5%
🇪🇨 Ecuador2.7%
🇪🇬 Egypt*4.0%
🇸🇻 El Salvador1.7%
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea-3.1%
🇪🇷 Eritrea2.9%
🇪🇪 Estonia1.8%
🇸🇿 Eswatini1.8%
🇪🇹 Ethiopia5.3%
🇫🇯 Fiji6.9%
🇫🇮 Finland0.5%
🇫🇷 France*0.7%
🇲🇰 North Macedonia3.0%
🇬🇦 Gabon3.7%
Georgia4.0%
Germany*0.1%
Ghana2.8%
Greece1.8%
Grenada3.6%
Guatemala3.2%
Guinea5.1%
Guinea-Bissau4.5%
Guyana25.2%
Haiti0.5%
Honduras3.5%
Hong Kong SAR3.9%
Hungary1.8%
Iceland2.9%
India*6.1%
Indonesia*4.8%
Iraq4.0%
Ireland4.0%
Iran*2.0%
Israel3.0%
Italy*0.6%
Jamaica3.0%
Japan*1.8%
Jordan2.7%
Kazakhstan*4.3%
Kenya5.1%
Kiribati2.4%
South Korea*1.7%
Kosovo3.5%
Kuwait2.6%
Kyrgyz Republic3.2%
Lao P.D.R.3.1%
Latvia1.6%
Lesotho1.6%
Liberia4.2%
Libya17.9%
Lithuania1.1%
Luxembourg1.1%
Macao SAR56.7%
Madagascar5.2%
🇲🇼 Malawi2.5%
🇲🇾 Malaysia*4.4%
🇲🇻 Maldives6.1%
🇲🇱 Mali5.3%
🇲🇹 Malta3.3%
🇲🇭 Marshall Islands3.2%
🇲🇷 Mauritania4.8%
🇲🇺 Mauritius5.4%
🇲🇽 Mexico*1.7%
🇫🇲 Micronesia2.9%
🇲🇩 Moldova2.3%
🇲🇳 Mongolia5.0%
🇲🇪 Montenegro2.5%
🇲🇦 Morocco3.1%
🇲🇿 Mozambique4.9%
🇲🇲 Myanmar3.3%
🇳🇦 Namibia3.2%
🇳🇷 Nauru2.0%
🇳🇵 Nepal5.0%
🇳🇱 Netherlands*0.6%
🇳🇿 New Zealand1.9%
🇳🇮 Nicaragua3.0%
🇳🇪 Niger7.3%
🇳🇬 Nigeria*3.2%
🇳🇴 Norway2.6%
🇴🇲 Oman4.1%
🇵🇰 Pakistan*2.0%
🇵🇼 Palau12.3%
🇵🇦 Panama4.0%
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea5.1%
🇵🇾 Paraguay4.3%
🇵🇪 Peru2.6%
🇵🇭 Philippines*5.0%
🇵🇱 Poland*0.3%
🇵🇹 Portugal0.7%
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico0.4%
🇶🇦 Qatar2.4%
🇨🇬 Republic of Congo4.6%
🇷🇴 Romania3.1%
🇷🇺 Russia*0.3%
🇷🇼 Rwanda6.7%
🇼🇸 Samoa4.0%
🇸🇲 San Marino0.8%
🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe2.6%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia*2.6%
🇸🇳 Senegal8.1%
🇷🇸 Serbia2.7%
🇸🇨 Seychelles5.2%
🇸🇱 Sierra Leone3.3%
🇸🇬 Singapore2.3%
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic1.5%
🇸🇮 Slovenia1.7%
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands2.6%
🇸🇴 Somalia3.1%
🇿🇦 South Africa*1.2%
🇸🇸 South Sudan5.6%
🇪🇸 Spain*1.1%
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka-3.0%
🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis4.8%
🇱🇨 St. Lucia5.8%
🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines6.0%
🇸🇩 Sudan2.6%
🇸🇷 Suriname2.3%
🇸🇪 Sweden-0.1%
🇨🇭 Switzerland0.8%
🇹🇼 Taiwan2.8%
🇹🇯 Tajikistan4.0%
🇹🇿 Tanzania5.2%
🇹🇭 Thailand*3.7%
🇧🇸 The Bahamas4.1%
🇬🇲 The Gambia6.0%
🇹🇱 Timor-Leste4.2%
🇹🇬 Togo6.2%
🇹🇴 Tonga2.9%
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago3.5%
🇹🇳 Tunisia1.6%
🇹🇷 Turkey*3.0%
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan2.3%
🇹🇻 Tuvalu3.5%
🇺🇬 Uganda5.9%
🇺🇦 UkraineN/A
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates4.2%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom*-0.6%
🇺🇲 U.S.*1.4%
🇺🇾 Uruguay3.6%
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan4.7%
🇻🇺 Vanuatu3.1%
🇻🇪 Venezuela6.5%
🇻🇳 Vietnam6.2%
West Bank and Gaza3.5%
🇾🇪 Yemen3.3%
🇿🇲 Zambia4.0%
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe2.8%

*Reflect updated figures from the January 2023 IMF Update.

The U.S. is forecast to see 1.4% GDP growth in 2023, up from 1.0% seen in the last October projection.

Still, signs of economic weakness can be seen in the growing wave of tech layoffs, foreshadowed as a white-collar or ‘Patagonia-vest’ recession. Last year, 88,000 tech jobs were cut and this trend has continued into 2023. Major financial firms have also followed suit. Still, unemployment remains fairly steadfast, at 3.5% as of December 2022. Going forward, concerns remain around inflation and the path of interest rate hikes, though both show signs of slowing.

Across Europe, the average projected GDP growth rate is 0.7% for 2023, a sharp decline from the 2.1% forecast for last year.

Both Germany and Italy are forecast to see slight growth, at 0.1% and 0.6%, respectively. Growth forecasts were revised upwards since the IMF’s October release. However, an ongoing energy crisis exposes the manufacturing sector to vulnerabilities, with potential spillover effects to consumers and businesses, and overall Euro Area growth.

China remains an open question. In 2023, growth is predicted to rise 5.2%, higher than many large economies. While its real estate sector has shown signs of weakness, the recent opening on January 8th, following 1,016 days of zero-Covid policy, could boost demand and economic activity.

A Long Way to Go

The IMF has stated that 2023 will feel like a recession for much of the global economy. But whether it is headed for a recovery or a sharper decline remains unknown.

Today, two factors propping up the global economy are lower-than-expected energy prices and resilient private sector balance sheets. European natural gas prices have sunk to levels seen before the war in Ukraine. During the height of energy shocks, firms showed a notable ability to withstand astronomical energy prices squeezing their finances. They are also sitting on significant cash reserves.

On the other hand, inflation is far from over. To counter this effect, many central banks will have to use measures to rein in prices. This may in turn have a dampening effect on economic growth and financial markets, with unknown consequences.

As economic data continues to be released over the year, there may be a divergence between consumer sentiment and whether things are actually changing in the economy. Where the economy is heading in 2023 will be anyone’s guess.

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