My Two Cents

More Evidence of the New Frugality

Chris Farrell Feb 8, 2008

The opening paragraphs from today’s Wall Street Journal:

Credit-Card Pinch
Leads Consumers
To Rein In Spending
By ROBIN SIDEL, SUDEEP REDDY AND JANE J. KIM
February 8, 2008; Page A1

America’s love affair with credit cards may be headed for the rocks.

Credit-card delinquencies are rising across the nation, a sign that some Americans are at the end of their rope financially. And these mounting delinquencies, in turn, have prompted banks to tighten lending standards, keeping people who have maxed out their cards from finding new sources of credit.

The result could be a sharp pullback in consumer spending that would further weaken the slowing U.S. economy.

Such a pullback may already be taking shape. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve reported an abrupt slowdown in consumers’ credit-card borrowings. In December, Americans had $944 billion in total revolving debt, most of it on credit cards, a seasonally adjusted annualized increase of 2.7%. That was off sharply from seasonally adjusted growth rates of 13.7% in November and 11.1% in October. And it reflects the volatility in consumers’ spending habits as economic growth sputters.

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