Consumer Debt

Are Americans dangerously overstretched?


Despite an economic recovery in its sixth year, more American households are in debt now than at any point in the past 15 years, particularly the middle class. In fact, in the past several years household debt has risen faster than family income and, on average, exceeds annual income for the first time since the Federal Reserve started surveying consumer finances in the early 1980s. The explosion in debt — fueled largely by mortgage lending on residential housing that rose in value and then leveled off or declined — has some economists worrying that the next economic recession will be devastating to families that already owe so much. Others complain that state and federal governments are not protecting consumers from abusive credit card and payday-lending ...

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