Rising cost of debt stretching cash thin

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Lisa Napoli: Employment numbers will be out in a few hours. And the auto loan industry will be among those paying close attention. A Lehman Brothers survey says .there's been an increase in delinquencies on auto loans. Jeremy Hobson reports.


Jeremy Hobson: Colorado truck driver Lonzell Watts is in trouble. He's five months behind on his mortgage and his interest rate is about to tick up again. And now he's having trouble making car payments.

Lonzell Watts: I'm behind one right now, and I gotta pay it. And then utilities. My water got cut off, because I had to take that money and pay my mortgage.

Harvard University Law Professor Elizabeth Warren says middle-class Americans like Watts simply aren't making enough to cover their rising cost of debt.

Elizabeth Warren: For years, lenders -- the mortgage lenders, the credit-card issuers, the payday loan outfits and the car lenders -- have treated the middle-class family as if it were the turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner. We're down to the bones now.

Scott Hoyt at Moody's Economy.com doesn't think things are quite so dire, but he says if there's a recession:

Scott Hoyt: We'll see substantial declines in spending and in credit quality, really on all types of consumer loans.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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