Margin Debt and the Market: Down 4.3% in July, First Decline in 15 Months

Note: The NYSE suspended its NYSE Member Firm margin data as of December 2017. We have replaced our Margin Debt data with FINRA data, which includes data for all firms, not just NYSE member firms.


The New York Stock Exchange previously published end-of-month data for margin debt on the NYX data website, including historical data going back to 1959. Because of NYSE's suspension of publication, we have turned to FINRA to continue our analysis. The figures differ in their inclusion of firms. For data through January 2010, debit balances were derived by adding NYSE debit balances in margin accounts to FINRA debit balances in customers' cash and margin accounts and credit balances were derived by adding NYSE free credit balances in cash and margin accounts to FINRA free and other credit balances in customers' securities accounts. For data after January 2010, "As of February 2010, data are collected pursuant to FINRA Rule 4521 and are aggregated across all member firms, regardless of whether the firm was designated to NASD or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) before the consolidation of NASD and the member firm regulation operations of NYSE Regulation in July 2007 that created FINRA," (FINRA statistics definition, FINRA website). As a result of this change, the debt data is higher than the NYSE data.

Let's examine the numbers and study the relationship between margin debt and the market, using the S&P 500 as the surrogate for the latter.