Americans have been spending more in the last few months and, while they're at it, they're racking up more credit card debt, according to two reports issued Wednesday.
Americans are on track to add $60 billion to their credit card debt by the end of the year, according to CardHub, a financial website concentrating on credit card debt. If that proves true, Americans will have a total of more than $900 billion in credit card debt by the end of the year, just shy of the amount CardHub says is unsustainable.
At the same time, savings rates remained static for the second quarter of the year and consumer spending was up, says Dan Geller, a behavioral finance scientist who produces the Money Anxiety Index.
"Credit card debt statistics, in particular, reflect consumer sentiment and can foretell overleveraging bubbles that may trigger constriction in credit markets,” says CardHub.
The first quarter of this year looked promising, CardHub says, with consumers paying down $35 billion in credit card debt. Credit card debt normally goes down during the first quarter of the year and rises in the second quarter, but this year the gains early in the year were almost wiped out by second quarter debt.
“We erased almost all of our first-quarter pay down, racking up a whopping $32.1 billion in new balances from April through June, the largest second quarter binge since we began conducting the Credit Card Debt Study in 2009,” CardHub says.
The average indebted household’s balance is on track to hit $7,813 by the end of the year, which is only $615 below the tipping point CardHub identified as being unsustainable and at which delinquency rates will skyrocket, the study says.
At the same time, Geller reports that the amount of consumers' savings in domestic bank accounts remained nearly flat at $10.6 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2015 compared to an increase of 2 percent in the first quarter of the year.
Some of the money that was not deposited in bank accounts in the second quarter was diverted to spending. Retail sales increased 0.6 percent in July and pending home sales rose 0.5 percent over the month.
The extra spending indicates consumers are less anxious about their money, Geller says.