American households’ outstanding debt climbed to an all-time high of US$13.1 trillion in the October-December period, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It marked the fourth straight quarter in which borrowing reached a record. 

Debt balances increased from the previous quarter in all but one category, including a 3.2 per cent gain in credit-card borrowing that was the second-largest since 2007 and a record level of auto loans. At the same time, 7.55 per cent of credit-card balances were in serious delinquency -- those 90 days or more past due -- the highest since the first quarter of 2016, while the 4.05 per cent delinquent share of car loans was the biggest since 2012.

The overall share of 90-day delinquent loans fell to 3.12 per cent from 3.19 per cent on declines in the levels for mortgages and student loans.