Consumer debt totals $15.6 trillion after a record-breaking increase in 2021


A customer counts his cash at the register while purchasing an item at a Best Buy store in Flushing, New York.

Jessica Rinaldi | Reuters

Consumers ended 2021 with record levels of debt, leading into a year in which interest rates are expected to rise substantially.

Total debt at the end of the year came to $15.6 trillion, an increase of $333 billion in the fourth quarter and just over $1 trillion for the year, according to data released Tuesday from the Federal Reserve’s New York district.

The quarterly rise was the biggest since 2007, and the annual gain was the largest ever in records going back to 2003.

The increases came ahead of a period in which the Fed is expected to start jacking up…


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