Are You Ready for the Credit Card Crisis?
How bad is it?
• Financial analysts say that in the U.S. alone more than $850 billion in unpaid credit card balances is at stake and fast approaching $1 trillion, roughly the same amount as in the subprime market.
• CNN reports that worldwide, consumers have racked up more than $2.2 trillion in purchases and cash advances on major credit cards in just the last year.
• The unpaid debt portion of this is continuing to pile up, with U.S. consumers last year adding $68 billion against their credit lines, boosting credit card debt by 7.8 percent, the largest increase in seven years, just when the last recession was beginning.
• Even as they spent, consumers have been going into default at a stunning rate. The percentage of people delinquent on their credit cards is soaring, and credit card companies are now writing off somewhere near 5 percent of payments.
• By last fall, the major banks were setting aside billions for loan-loss reserves while anticipating an increase of 20 percent in non-payments over the next two to four quarters.
• Capital One, one of the biggest credit card banks, was forced to write off $1.9 billion in bad debt just in the last quarter of 2007.
•By October, according to a survey of only the leading credit card banks by the Associated Press, the value of credit card accounts at least 30 days late was up 26% from the previous year, to $17.3 billion. Serious delinquencies among some of the biggest lenders rose by 50 percent or more in the value of accounts that were at least 90 days delinquent.
• Making matters worse, or more widespread throughout the economy, just as with mortgage debt, credit card debt is put into pools that are then resold to investment houses, other banks and institutional investors. About 45 percent of the nation’s $900-plus billion in credit card debt has been packaged into these pools, and so many companies, not just a few, are at risk of being forced out of business by credit card debt write-offs.
Schecter goes on to write ...
Since Ronald Reagan, we have been living in an era in which neither the meltdown of the savings and loan banks in the 1980s nor the Enron-like scandals of the Bush years has stopped the relentless advancement and protection by both parties of the ability of financial institutions to make a buck at any cost to the social good and economic fabric. Which is what you get, of course, when both parties are so dependent on massive financial contributions to get their candidates into office and when the corporate media, heavy with advertising from the FIRE sector – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate – doesn’t warn the public or investigate the egregious fudging, misrepresentation and outright fraud that underpins the subprime and looming credit card crisis.