American household debt rose in the fourth quarter of 2012, the first rise since 2008 when the recession was in full force, reports the Wall Street Journal. Debts rose 0.3% to $11.34 trillion, including $553 billion in new mortgages, the single biggest source of consumer debt. "There are signs that the four-year-long contraction is slowing," says one analyst.
US debt levels are still $1.3 trillion below their 2008 peak, and while housing debt shows signs of rebounding, credit card debt fell 4% in 2012, indicating consumers are probably not ready to resume big spending again. Outstanding students loans also remain very high: $966 billion at the end of 2012, compared to $400 billion in 2005.