Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Consumer Credit - G.19

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Technical Q&As

This page provides additional information about data in the Board of Governorsí statistical release on Consumer Credit (G.19). Most of the information is of a technical nature and represents answers to questions that may be of interest to a range of analysts and researchers. The page will be updated as such questions arise.

Documentation for the statistics in the G.19 release is available on the About page on the Board's website.


1. What do the flow data represent?

Flow data represent changes in the level of credit due to economic and financial activity, rather than breaks in the data series due to changes in methodology, source data, and other technical aspects of the estimation that could affect the level of credit.

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2. Why did you choose to publish flow data?

Publishing flow data allows users to calculate a growth rate of consumer credit that excludes breaks due to changes in methodology, source data, and other technical aspects of the estimation that could affect the level of credit.

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3. How do I calculate the growth rate with flows?

The seasonally adjusted annualized growth rate is calculated from annualized flow data as follows:

\displaystyle G^{SA}_t=100*\frac{F^{SA}_t}{L^{SA}_{t-1}}

Where  {F}_{t} is the annualized flow in month t and  {L}_{t-1} is the level in month t-1. If the flow is at a monthly rate, it can be converted to an annual rate by multiplying the monthly flow by 12.

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4. Why does the seasonally adjusted growth rate published at the top of the G.19 differ in some periods from the growth rate computed from the seasonally adjusted level?

The seasonally adjusted growth rate published at the top of the G.19 is calculated as the current seasonally adjusted flow of consumer credit, divided by the previous seasonally adjusted level. In periods that include a series break, this growth rate will differ from the growth rate calculated using only the level of consumer credit as the latter will reflect the break in the series.

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5. Under what circumstances are breaks allowed?

Breaks in the data series were allowed only to reflect significantly large changes in methodology, source data, and other technical aspects of the estimation that could affect the level of credit.

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6. Are data prior to the start of the revision in 2006 comparable to data after the break?

For most sectors, the data before and after the break are directly comparable. The underlying methodology change for Depository institutions, Finance companies, Credit unions and the Federal Government sectors is sufficiently small. The methodology change for nonfinancial businesses and securitized pools is significantly large so users should use caution when comparing trends prior to the start of the revision in January 2006 and after this date. For more information on the new methodology, see the G.19 release's "About" page.

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7. Why is there a break in the seasonally adjusted level in December 2006?

Prior to this revision, the Federal Reserve seasonally adjusted the level of consumer credit. Because with this revision the level of consumer credit may contain series breaks, seasonal patterns are now estimated using the flow of consumer credit. This change in seasonal adjustment methodology required a break in the seasonally adjusted level.

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8. Why does the seasonally adjusted level equal the seasonally unadjusted level each December?

The method for estimating seasonal patterns on the flow of credit requires the seasonal movements to fully offset each other over the course of an entire year, which implies that for one month of every year, the seasonally unadjusted level equals the seasonally adjusted level. This seasonal adjustment methodology applies to data after 2005.

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9. What happened to the Commercial banks and Savings institutions sectors? What is included in Depository institutions?

The G.19 has been restructured to reflect regulatory filing changes for U.S.-chartered depository institutions. In particular, savings institutions now file the same regulatory report as the U.S.-chartered commercial banks. The U.S.-chartered commercial banks sector and the savings institution sector (previously shown separately) have been combined into a new sector called depository institutions.

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10. What types of loans are included in the Nonprofit and Educational Institutions sector?

The Nonprofit and Educational Institutions sector includes only Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans held by such institutions.

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11. What types of institutions are included in the Nonprofit and Educational Institutions sector?

The Nonprofit and Educational Institutions sector reflects data from nonprofit lenders and schools. Examples include Brazos Group, Utah State Board of Regents, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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12. What is included in the Student Loans memo item?

The Student Loans memo item reflects the total student loan debt outstanding, including accrued interest and defaulted federal loans. The estimate is constructed by summing private (non-guaranteed) student loans and federal student loans outstanding issued under the Direct Loan, the Federal Family Education Loan, and the Perkins programs.

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13. Is the Student Loans memo item a subset of total nonrevolving consumer credit?

No. The vast majority of the balances reflected in the Student Loans memo item are included in total nonrevolving credit. However, charged-off government-guaranteed student loans held by private financial institutions are excluded from total nonrevolving credit but included in the student loan memo item.

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14. What data sources are used to produce the Student Loans memo?

The Department of Education (DoEd) is the data source for government-guaranteed loans and MeasureOne is the source for private (non-guaranteed) loans. The DoEd data are available at http://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/portfolio.

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15. Why does the G.19 student loan estimate differ from the student loan estimate published in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's (NY Fed) Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit?

The two estimates are based on different source data. The G.19 estimate is based on data reported by lenders, whereas the NY Fed estimate is based on credit bureau data. Nonetheless, the two data sources show remarkably similar trends in student loan growth. For more information regarding the measurement of student loan balances and the comparison between the G.19 and NY Fed estimates, see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/notes/feds-notes/2015/how-much-student-debt-is-out-there-20150807.html

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16. What types of motor vehicles are included in the Motor Vehicle Loans memo item?

The Motor Vehicle Loans memo item includes passenger cars, minivans, vans, sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and other light trucks for personal use. Boats, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles are not included.

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17. Is the Motor Vehicle Loans memo item a subset of total nonrevolving consumer credit?

Yes, it is.

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Last update: August 7, 2015