"Household Debt as % of Disposable Personal Income"
Households are deleveraging at a rapid pace according to the Federal Reserve. Total mortgage, consumer and other debt owed by households fell to $13.4 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2010, down 4.0 percent from the peak of $13.9 trillion in the first quarter of 2008. As a percentage of disposable personal income (income less taxes), household debt fell to 116 percent in the fourth quarter, down from a peak of 130 percent in the third quarter of 2007 and the lowest level in six years. Foreclosure activity has pushed mortgage debt steadily lower for the past 12 quarters, but consumer debt, i.e. credit cards, rose slightly in the fourth quarter as lenders and borrowers began to loosen up. The increase in consumer debt plus the decline of mortgage debt means that consumers will have more money to spend, a positive indicator for non-housing-related retail sales and firming demand for space in shopping centers.