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This month, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released reports indicating that both banks and consumers are becoming more comfortable with credit.

This week, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) released its quarterly "Household Debt and Credit Report" for the second quarter of 2011. This report helps businesses, government and consumers understand the trends in borrowing and consumer debt levels based on the type of debt consumers carry.

This quarter's report gives a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for the consumer credit markets. Looking at the last few years from when the recession started, overall consumer debt balance has fallen from $12.5 trillion in 2003, to $11.4 trillion in the second quarter of 2011. Along with the falloff in overall debt, consumers' appetite for credit card debt also decreased during this time.

However, the decreases have slowed down, and there are rumblings that both the banks that give credit and the consumers who take on debt are starting to feel more positive about the future.

The first indicator that banks are feeling more comfortable about the market is through rising credit limits. FRBNY stated that credit card limits increased by about two percent, or $60 billion. This is the second consecutive quarter these limits have risen.

Consumers may have noticed banks' change in attitude just by looking in their mailboxes. Credit card offers have increased over the last two years. According to market research firm Mintel Comperemedia, credit card offers have more than doubled, from 551 million during the fourth quarter of 2009 to 1.4 billion offers in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Consumers seem to be biting on those offers. True, the overall number of credit accounts, including credit card, mortgage, auto loan, student loan and home equity lines of credit, has dropped by 31 million in the four quarters ending June 30; however, in the last quarter, the number of open credit card accounts has jumped by 10 million to 389 million, says the FRBNY.

One indicator of credit weariness during the recession has been the closing of accounts. In 2009, the number of accounts closed spiked, but in recent quarters, the rush to close accounts has waned. The number of credit inquiries is also experiencing another uptick, which indicates that consumers are starting to seek more credit.

The Federal Reserve's monthly G.19 Consumer Credit report for June also shows that the overall amount of short- and intermediate-term credit extended to individuals, excluding loans secured by real estate, is also on the rise. While the total credit outstanding is still about a half-billion dollars off its 2008 high of $2.6 trillion, after two straight years of declines, the outstanding amount has risen by about four percent in the last quarter, double the first quarter of 2011's growth rate. Furthermore, most of that growth came from sharp increases in June.

While the numbers are starting to look promising in terms of gauging consumers' comfort levels with debt, it's ultimately still too soon for the Fed to tell whether or not households' financial future is getting brighter.

"Outstanding consumer debt remained essentially flat, down just $50 billion, in what was basically a repeat of the previous quarter. This is more evidence that the pace of consumer deleveraging that began in late 2008 has slowed," said Andrew Haughwout, vice president in the Research and Statistics Group at the New York Fed, in a press release. "During the next few quarters we will gain a better understanding of whether this is a permanent or temporary break in the decline of total outstanding consumer debt."