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Consumer debt nearing pre-recession levels

Nov 07, 2011 Walt Wojoiechowski

Consumer debt nudged down in September, reflecting Americans' rigorous efforts to rein in outstanding debts and improve their financial health. According to the most recent National Credit Trends Report from Equifax, consumer debt now stands at $11.2 trillion, slightly more than the $11.1 trillion recorded before the recession in 2006. The figure is substantially lower than the peak of $12.4 trillion noted in October of 2008. Roughly $436 billion of total new credit - including auto loans, credit cards, consumer finance loans, home equity lines and student loans - was originated between January and July of this year. This marks the highest total for the period in three years. "The impact of 2005-2007 vintage loans continues to be felt across multiple lending sectors," said Michael Koukounas, senior vice president of Special Client Services at Equifax. "More than two-thirds of delinquent loans can be sourced to those originated during that time." Loans originated after 2008, Koukounas added, are performing much better due to tighter underwriting guidelines. Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported total student debt in the U.S now exceeds that of credit cards.