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The late Thanksgiving holiday may have skewed U.S. consumer revolving credit data for November. It appears that Americans knocked-off $1.6 billion in revolving credit, mostly credit card debt, during November, marking the first contraction for 2002. The most recent pay-down in revolving credit occurred in 2001 in the wake of the recession and 9/11. In November 2001, Americans added $11.6 billion to revolving credit, a typical pattern for the beginning of the holiday shopping season. However, “Black Friday 2002,” the day after Thanksgiving, came on the next to the last day of November. It is expected the normal November surge will be reflected in the December 2002 data to be released in early February by the Federal Reserve. Between November 2001 and November 2002, revolving credit has grown 3.5%. Bank credit card debt at the end of the third quarter was $632.7 billion or roughly 87% of total revolving credit, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). According to the government figures released this week, American consumers were $1.721 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages during November. Overall, consumer credit declined 1.5%, the first such decline in overall consumer credit in five years. Brace yourself for an explosion in consumer credit in December, at least by the government figures.

                             REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL
                                  ($billions)
        Nov 02   Oct 02  Sep 02  Aug 02   Jul 02  Jun 02 May 02
GRWTH:   -2.6%   4.0     3.0     6.2     8.9     6.0     4.1
$OWED:  $722.1   723.7   721.3   719.5   717.4   715.6   712.1

        Apr02  Mar 02   Feb 02  Jan 02  Dec 01  Nov 01  Oct 01
GRWTH:   8.0%   4.8     2.2    1.8     -9.7    12.7    -7.1
$OWED:  $708.7  705.4   705.0  702.4    692.4  698.0    686.4

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 01/08/03; For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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