Monday, May 7, 2012
U.S. consumers swiped their credit cards more often in March after cutting back during the previous two months. The increase helped drive overall borrowing up by the most in more than a decade.
The Federal Reserve says total consumer borrowing rose $21.4 billion in March, the seventh straight monthly increase and the biggest since November 2001.
A measure of auto and student loans increased $16.2 billion. A separate gauge of mostly credit card debt rose $5.2 billion after declining in January and February.
The increase pushed total borrowing up to a seasonally adjusted $2.54 trillion. That's slightly below the all-time high of $2.58 trillion reached in July 2008, eight months after the Great Recession began. Borrowing then plunged for more than two straight years before resuming its current upward trend.