New York Fed: Household debt reached $17 trillion in early 2023

Total household debt rose by $148 billion, or 0.9%, to $17.05 trillion in the first quarter of 2023, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s latest quarterly report on household debt and credit, released today. Balances currently are $2.9 trillion higher than at the end of 2019, before the pandemic.

Mortgage balances rose by $121 billion in Q1 and were $12.04 trillion at the end of March, the New York Fed said. Credit card balances were flat at $986 billion. Auto loan balances increased by $10 billion during the quarter. Student loan balances slightly increased and are currently at $1.6 trillion. Other balances, which include retail cards and other consumer loans, increased by $5 billion. In total, non-housing balances grew by $24 billion.

The report noted that mortgage originations, which include refinances, dropped sharply in Q1 to $324 billion, the lowest level seen since 2014. The volume of newly originated auto loans was $162 billion, a reduction from pandemic-era highs but still elevated compared to pre-COVID volumes. Aggregate limits on credit card accounts increased by $119 billion, representing a 2.7% increase from Q4 2022 levels. Limits on home equity lines of credit were up by $9 billion in the first quarter.

In a related blog post on mortgage refinancing, the New York Fed noted that 14 million mortgages were refinanced during the pandemic refinancing boom, during which $430 billion of home equity was extracted through cash-out refinances. About 64% of these mortgages were “rate refinances,” resulting in an average payment reduction of $220 monthly for those borrowers. “The mortgage refinancing boom is over, but its impact will be seen for decades to come,” said Andrew Haughwout, director of household and public policy research at the New York Fed.