Consumer Debt Levels

USA Today has an article on consumer debt levels.   Basically, consumer debt isn’t going anywhere fast.  In 2008 household debt totaled $13.9 trillion.  That was almost double the 2000 levels.  In 2009 —  after the collapse of the credit bubble, banks cutting back lending, tightening of lending standards — you know, after the last year — household debt level is down for the first time in ages.  Well, sort of.  Household debt is now down to $13.8 trillion.  Whoo Hoo!

If this doesn’t scream that we’ve got a problem, then I don’t know what does.  Oh, and all those economists calling for a 2nd half economic recovery?  On the backs of what jobs and what income?  We are a consumer driven economy.  As long as the consumer is busy NOT getting debt paid down and NOT staying employed, I wouldn’t start singing Happy Days are Here Again anytime soon.

So, where to start?  The credit card reform bill going into effect next year is a start.  Anyone who has spent any time at all reading credit card terms figures out pretty quickly that the credit card companies have spent a huge amount of time figuring out ways to make debt almost impossible to pay down.  If you haven’t read about interest rate increases (by sometimes 30% apr or more) just because the card company thinks it can, then maybe you should start by googling double cycle billing; but I wouldn’t recomend trying that before breakfast.

Elaine

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