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U.S. consumers are holding considerably less household debt after spending the past four years weaning themselves off certain types of loans, analysts with DBRS said this week.

In the four-year period, stretching from 2003 to 2007, U.S. debt levels increased by 10.2% per year, the ratings firm said.

U.S. household debt peaked in the fourth quarter of 2008 at $12.7 trillion, declining to $11.4 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2012, DBRS noted.

During the past three years, mortgage debt declined as home prices dropped, lending standards tightened and mortgage defaults cleared certain home mortgages.

As mortgage debt escalated, student loan debt grew on rising tuition and student enrollment, DBRS noted.

Auto debt also is growing as the economy improves and consumers find themselves needing to replace aging automobiles.

Total mortgage-related securitization volumes hit $2.4 trillion in 2007, but have averaged only $1.9 trillion per year since then.

Credit card securitization volumes also peaked at $99.5 billion four years ago, while averaging only $16.1 billion last year.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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