Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released their quarterly report on Household Debt and Credit for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Although the ravages of the pandemic are still massive and widespread, there were some glimmers of a silver lining. Some takeaways being:
- The coronavirus pandemic changed the way U.S. consumers use credit, as lower interest rates spurred a boom in home buying and refinancing and virus-related shutdowns led to a drop in credit card use and an increase in paying off debt, according to a report released on Wednesday by the New York Federal Reserve.
- Home buying and refinancing took off last year after the Federal Reserve slashed its key overnight interest rate to near zero to fight the economic fallout from the pandemic, leading to lower mortgage rates. A massive shift to working and learning from home also bolstered the housing market, as some families searched for properties with more living space.
- Credit card balances increased by $12 billion in the fourth quarter but balances were still $108 billion lower from a year earlier – the largest yearly decline since the report was launched in 1999.
- In total, all household debt not related to housing – including credit card debt, auto loans, student loans, and other debts – increased by $37 billion during the fourth quarter but was still below pre-pandemic levels seen at the end of 2019.
Read the full report here.