First, it's important to note that March was revised significantly. Initially, we thought total credit grew by 1.0%. Instead, it fell by 2.7%. February was revised downward as well. Last month's first revision showed a 3.0% decline, but now we learn its drop was 3.8%.
March also saw sizeable revisions in credits' components. Revolving credit was thought to have declined 4.5%; in fact, it was down 5.3%. Last month, we thought non-revolving credit grew by 3.9%. Instead, it shrunk by 1.2%.
That might provide some caution in assuming the accuracy in today's reported increase in credit for April. It says that revolving credit declined by 12.0%. That marks the 19th straight month that revolving credit has shrunk. It has fallen by $138 billion since September 2008.
Here's how credit has changed since the recession began in December 2007:
As for the holders of debt, securitized pools saw the only significant jump in April, with their balance rising by 2.6%. Could asset-backed securities be making a comeback? Savings institutions saw the biggest decline, down 1.7%. Every other category moved less than a percent.
Really, this month's data marks a continuation in the trend of consumer credit contraction. It's hard to tell whether this is a result of stricter underwriting requirements or consumers trying to pay down their debt -- or both. Even though we saw more non-revolving credit, that could change drastically in May. We already know that home sales will be much lower, since mortgage applications for new purchases plummeted 40% last month.
Note: All data above is seasonally adjusted.
Note 2: This post has been corrected through a few strike-throughs as I learned after-the-fact that real estate debt is not included in this statistic.