The threat of debt, part 1

According to Equifax the value of unsecured personal loans in the US is up 10% in the last year alone and is similar in size to credit card debt, averaging $16,259.  In view of the currently healthy economy  and increasing wages for some, this is a bit counter-intuitive.  But, whatever the reason, in banking , if it is growing like a weed  it is probably a weed.

US consumer debt in general has reached the record level of $115 billion, helped along by a plethora of new online lenders, who apparently don’t ask too many questions of the 20 million people who use their services.  The payments, and repayment dates,  are fixed and it appears that many borrowers use this personal borrowing in order to consolidate debt, often debt on multiple credit cards. But if anything goes wrong (a serious illness, for instance) then the lenders return to borrowing on their credit cards again, in addition, creating a spiral of debt.

Meanwhile, the national auto loan debt totals $1.3 trillion and credit card debt $880 billion.  Total it all up and you get close to the levels of January 2008.  (By the way the the personal debt lenders cap their interest at 36%, which I would call usury) .

You can guess what word I am going to use:  yes, “moderation”!  When it comes to money – lending it or borrowing it – nothing ever seems to stay moderate for long.

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