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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. consumer borrowing rose by less than forecast in October while credit card debt outstanding hit a three-year low and revolving credit declined for the seventh time in eight months.

Details: Total credit increased $7.2 billion from September, but revolving credit fell by $65.6 billion, reflecting a decline in credit card balances, the Fed reported Monday.

The big picture: The consumer credit report comes on the heels of research from S&P Global that found loan growth at U.S. banks declined in the third quarter, as banks tightened lending standards and demand from businesses fell.

  • The Fed's October survey of senior loan officers found that banks were requiring higher minimum credit scores for credit cards and auto loans, and that small businesses are seeing higher collateralization requirements and higher premiums on loans.

Go deeper

Big bank bond trading soared in 2020

Data: Analysis of company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic helped to pull big banks’ bond trading revenue out of a multi-year slump.

Why it matters: Revenue within the so-called fixed income, currency and commodity (FICC) divisions has been slowing for years.

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the need for the U.S. to confront China's aggression. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.