One of the few good recent results of the economy has been a continuous decline in consumer debt. Consumer debt fell for the 8th consecutive month, for the first time, in September, declining by $15 billion.
Consumer debt grew by about $100 each year from 2004 through 2007. In 2008 it increased $40 billion. In 2009 it has fallen over $100 billion so far: from $2,559 billion to $2,456 billion. This still leaves over $8,000 in consumer debt for every person in the USA and $20,000 per family.
The huge amount of outstanding consumer and government debt remains a burden for the economy. At least some progress is being made to decrease consumer debt.
Those living in USA have consumed far more than they have produced for decades. That is not sustainable. You don’t fix this problem by encouraging more spending and borrowing: either by the government or by consumers. The long term problem for the USA economy is that people have consuming more than they have been producing.
The solution to this problem is to stop spending beyond your means by even increasing levels of personal and government debt. Thankfully over the last year at least consumer debt has been declining. Government debt has been exploding so unfortunately that problem has continued to get worse.
As we know, interest rates have fallen a great deal over the last few years. the federal funds rate sits at essentially 0% and money market funds now yield under 1%. However, credit card accounts that are charging interest increase to an interest rate of 14.9% from 13.6% in the 3rd quarter of 2008. In 2004 the credit card interest rate was 13.2%, 2005 – 14.6%, 2006 – 14.7%, 2007 – 14.7%, 2008 – 13.6%. All credit card balances should be paid off every month to avoid these excessive interest rates.