Texas frequently charts its own economic course. The oil bust of the late 1980s slammed the energy-producing state, while much of the country was left unscathed. Meanwhile, the nationwide foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s inflicted relatively little harm on Texas homeowners.
Today, Texas is in the midst of a consumer lending boom that again leaves it out of step with the rest of the country, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
For each of the last four quarters, the amount of per capita consumer debt in the Lone Star State has risen by 5% to 6% when compared with same period a year earlier. Nationally, the comparable growth rates ranged between 0.8% and 2.4%, according to the New York Fed.
Whether the outsize growth in Texas is a sign of economic health or a harbinger of looming bad debts is a matter of debate.
The argument in favor of alarm goes like this: Yes, Texas has diversified its economy over the last 30 years, but the state's fortunes are still more closely tied to oil prices than most other parts of the country. Today a barrel of oil is selling for less than half its price two years ago.
"Texas has historically been a consumer boom-and-bust state," said Nick Clements, a former Citibank executive who later co-founded a comparison-shopping site for consumer credit.
Clements worries that in energy-producing regions, where people's incomes have fallen as a result of layoffs or fewer hours, households are now borrowing more to maintain their lifestyles.
If the price of oil rebounds quickly, those families should be OK. "But if we have five years of lower prices, then this could be an issue," said Clements, a co-founder of MagnifyMoney.
Other observers make an argument for equanimity about the strong consumer loan growth in Texas.
Rogers Pope Jr., the chief executive of Texas Bank and Trust in Longview, said that the state's lenders have generally been steady and judicious in making credit more accessible.
"I think Texas bankers learned well the lessons of the financial crisis of the late '80s and early '90s," he said.
And for now at least, late-payment rates in Texas are close to the national average. During the second quarter, 3.54% of consumer loan balances in Texas were 90 days or more late, which compared with 3.34% nationwide, according to the New York Fed.
Texas also has a lower-than-average unemployment rate — 4.5%, versus 4.9% nationally — despite the energy sector's troubles.
"There's more people employed. There's more confidence in the economy," said Steve Scurlock, executive vice president at the Independent Bankers Association of Texas.
Moreover, the New York Fed's numbers may exaggerate the difference in the growth of consumer debt in Texas versus other states because those numbers are still being influenced by the effects of the foreclosure crisis.
In states that were harder hit during the Great Recession, some housing-related debts are still being charged off, which is depressing growth in consumer lending. In Texas, the drag is not as big.
Still, there is reason to worry that as long as oil prices remain unusually low, the effects will spill into the consumer economy in various parts of the country.
Back in May, the New York Fed found that 90-day delinquency rates on auto loans were more than a percentage point higher in U.S. counties where the local economy is heavily dependent on oil than they were nationwide.
Credit trends in the Texas oil patch merit a particularly close watch.
"What's going on in those regions, they're clearly suffering," said Dale Kraymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.
At the same time, Kraymer emphasized that the nation's second-largest state by population has a more resilient economy than it did in the past. Referring to the rapid growth in consumer credit in Texas, he said, "It may be more of a yellow flag than a red flag."
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Corrected August 17, 2016 at 9:11AM: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that the 3.54% late-payment rate in Texas was below the national average; it is actually slightly above the national average.