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You Can’t Take It with You: America's public and personal debt crises

By City Journal

America’s private-sector and public-sector debt crises are collidingRead full story

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  • Laurel Touby
    Laurel ToubyManaging Partner/GM at Supernode Ventures

    This is not normal. This is the canary in the coal mine and a possible trigger of the next market crash.

  • American credit-card debt is at an all-time high of $1.04 trillion.

    41% of Americans have credit card debt and pay an average interest rate of 17%.

    And yet our government is seeking to stimulate the economy with more national debt.

  • John Plumadore
    John PlumadoreRetired

    Scary scenario it will all bust one day for both governments and personal finances. Didn’t Trump just borrow $500 Billion + and add to the national debt well above a trillion dollars?

  • Interesting read. The best thing is that debt can’t follow you into you grave nor snare your offspring.

  • De’Andre Crenshaw
    De’Andre CrenshawRetail Managment at CVS Pharmacy

    I think it’s crazy how much we focus on consumer spending stimulating the gdp and economy as a whole because of easy crest access but don’t think about real world consequences. Yeah we are creating economic growth but we are saddling more and more debt on people and we should stop thinking of people as consumers and cogs in the machine. Every year these debt stories grow and get more troublesome eventually we are going to have another recession, when the next credit crunch happens, goods and services

    I think it’s crazy how much we focus on consumer spending stimulating the gdp and economy as a whole because of easy crest access but don’t think about real world consequences. Yeah we are creating economic growth but we are saddling more and more debt on people and we should stop thinking of people as consumers and cogs in the machine. Every year these debt stories grow and get more troublesome eventually we are going to have another recession, when the next credit crunch happens, goods and services will become unaffordable for people and that’s bar for all of us.

  • Ann Rasmussen
    Ann Rasmussen

    As Credit card debt continues to rise. Decisions are increasingly taken away from the person who has the credit card. Moneys voice continues to speak louder.

    Serious debt can increase someone’s stress level to the point of effecting someone’s physical health.

    I am concerned about the people whose debt carried them to the point of bankruptcy. I think our society can handle an occasional bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is looked at as a solution to current problems or the only way to get out of a problem

    As Credit card debt continues to rise. Decisions are increasingly taken away from the person who has the credit card. Moneys voice continues to speak louder.

    Serious debt can increase someone’s stress level to the point of effecting someone’s physical health.

    I am concerned about the people whose debt carried them to the point of bankruptcy. I think our society can handle an occasional bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is looked at as a solution to current problems or the only way to get out of a problem; we may see an increase in bankruptcy. This will hurt our economy.

    The best decision I ever made was to stop using credit cards. The other best decision I made was to increase my gratitude towards what I have in my life.

    I do think there are a few people who can use their credit cards responsibly. I think the true test of a responsible credit card user is the ability to return their balance to zero around two months after their purchase.

  • Indefensible statement: Forty-one percent of Americans carry such debt, according to the ValuePenguin financial-research group, meaning that they can’t meet their basic expenses without borrowing, regularly, at an average interest rate of 17 percent.

    Not true for all people with credit card debt. Some, perhaps. All, completely false statement.

    Very close to being a great article. Too bad.

    A couple important points - essential points- were missed.

    The present generation of retirees is a group

    Indefensible statement: Forty-one percent of Americans carry such debt, according to the ValuePenguin financial-research group, meaning that they can’t meet their basic expenses without borrowing, regularly, at an average interest rate of 17 percent.

    Not true for all people with credit card debt. Some, perhaps. All, completely false statement.

    Very close to being a great article. Too bad.

    A couple important points - essential points- were missed.

    The present generation of retirees is a group far more comfortable with debt and credit cards in general. The prior generations tended to be the no debt at any cost people. This is an important factor in this discussion.

    It was noted that it isn’t the least poor going bankrupt- this should point you to some other culprits! What is the impact of the changing medical landscape? And wow, how many of these middle class retirees filing bankruptcy now incurred all or part of this debt in the far more prevalent gambling halls? I’d bet that is a measurable factor.

    Sometimes the trends can point to what is becoming a big problem. But it will take serious investigation to root out the cause. Not indefensible blanket statements.

  • George Batchelor
    George Batchelor COO at Polyn8 Inc.

    Too many people never learned and refuse to learn how debt is a form of financial slavery.

  • Amy Miller
    Amy MillerPresident at Miller Mediation and Solution

    The statistics listed in this article are jaw dropping!

    When I think about our seniors - many going into retirement in their 60s - having $6k in debt, this means they don’t have the $500 - $1000 in savings to handle any financial emergencies. They are literally living social security check to social security check. This is the generation that believed social security would be there, but that program is slated to run out of funds in less than 10 years.

    To make matters worse, most of our national

    The statistics listed in this article are jaw dropping!

    When I think about our seniors - many going into retirement in their 60s - having $6k in debt, this means they don’t have the $500 - $1000 in savings to handle any financial emergencies. They are literally living social security check to social security check. This is the generation that believed social security would be there, but that program is slated to run out of funds in less than 10 years.

    To make matters worse, most of our national debt is held by the social security trust fund. This means the government already borrowed against the very savings our seniors have been relying on to get them through their retirement.

    We need to find solutions such as pushing out retirement age to 70 or later. I’ve lived my life not expecting for any government funding to be available; finding other methods to save money. We also need to create jobs which seniors can do so they can continue to have an income. They need to have a protected hiring program as we do for veterans and disabled employees. I’m not sure the concept of retirement can be an option except for the wealthy.

  • Philip Keever
    Philip Keever

    Dave Ramsey needs to be appointed Secretary of the Treasury. Tony Robbins should be Secretary of Health & Human Services. We need to remove today’s paradigm on saving & especially on government spending! Fully 1/3 of our Country’s debt within 10 years will be due to the interest on borrowed money! It’s got to stop! Entitlement spending has to be corrected as well as defense!

    I grew up learning to only spend what I had in my pocket. If I didn’t have the cash, I had to wait. That isn’t taught anymore

    Dave Ramsey needs to be appointed Secretary of the Treasury. Tony Robbins should be Secretary of Health & Human Services. We need to remove today’s paradigm on saving & especially on government spending! Fully 1/3 of our Country’s debt within 10 years will be due to the interest on borrowed money! It’s got to stop! Entitlement spending has to be corrected as well as defense!

    I grew up learning to only spend what I had in my pocket. If I didn’t have the cash, I had to wait. That isn’t taught anymore - certainly not in High Schools or Colleges & unfortunately, probably not in today’s homes, either.

    Banks own us by marketing credit cards used to transfer debt loads from one institution to another @ O% interest for a year in the hopes you keep spending. People have to consume everything they see regardless if they have the cash.

    And thanks to easy gov’t sponsored loans, your college education can be leveraged forever. The universities and tenured professors get richer, but the graduates are on the hook forever paying the bill (& non graduates), whether any of them get jobs or not! That isn’t education - it’s suicide! People have to get smarter on how & where they spend $ for an education & what that education will bring them in terms of the quality of life the decision creates.

    And Health Care - God only knows what the next 2 decades will bring! It’s truly the one element of my life I’m scared of & working my butt off to try & plan for!

    Debt control, or I should say debt elimination needs to be a priority topic for today’s youth so they know how to live within their means & learn how to save for their futures WITHOUT having to rely on Uncle Sam.

    I’m 62 & started saving for retirement @ 24 & I thought I was too late back then! Our mat’l driven society needs to wake up. Stop worrying about who the best Kardashian is or what the most expensive car is they can lease, and begin focusing on long term financial security!

    I can say this, having the government rob one group of people to pay another group in the hopes of balancing the equation only serves to spread misery, dependency, and mediocrity. Eventually, you run out of the other guy’s money & the ones who will suffer as a result are the ones @ the bottom!

  • This is crazy! People need to wake up! If you can’t afford don’t purchase

  • Mike Russell
    Mike Russell

    Teaching my kids the seriousness of debt and the negative affect it will have on their lives is very important. Teaching them to budget and making their dollars matter on everything they buy. You don’t need a degree in college to manage money. Debt is a curse.

  • Kyo Kaku
    Kyo KakuVice President at China-Japan J/V

    This is the way of life American people chose out of your democracy system ever since the presidency of Bill Clinton; you just enslave the heck out of yourself to indebted greedy consumption whose interest liabilities are bundled altogether for securitization so that the wolves of Wall Street can play with the money lured by the strong USD. This is how things have worked, the debt of American import and consumption have been financed, or offset by the positive capital inflow.

    You need to face the

    This is the way of life American people chose out of your democracy system ever since the presidency of Bill Clinton; you just enslave the heck out of yourself to indebted greedy consumption whose interest liabilities are bundled altogether for securitization so that the wolves of Wall Street can play with the money lured by the strong USD. This is how things have worked, the debt of American import and consumption have been financed, or offset by the positive capital inflow.

    You need to face the fact that you are only good at consuming things, while suck at producing them, having given it all away to China. Never bother yourself daydreaming that you can win the trade war with China.

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