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A series about the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible.
Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt
"Patricia A. Hasson, president of the Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley, said Ms. McLeod would probably wind up having to repay 40 percent to 60 percent of her credit card debt. The owner of her mortgages could come after her for the difference between what she owes on her loan and what her house ultimately sells for. The first mortgage was sold to investors; Citigroup declined to say whether it held onto the second mortgage or sold it to investors.A sheriff’s auction of her home on June 12 received no bidders, Ms. McLeod said. The bank will soon evict her. “Oh, I definitely have regrets,” Ms. McLeod said. “I regret not dealing with my emotions instead of just shopping. And I regret involving my son in all this because that has affected him and his finances and his self-esteem.” Ms. McLeod says she hopes to be living in an apartment she can afford soon and to get back to paying her bills on time. She does not want another credit card, she said. But even though her credit profile is ruined, she still receives come-ons. Recently an envelope arrived offering a “pre-qualified” Salute Visa Gold card issued by Urban Bank Trust. “We think you deserve more credit!” it said in bold type. A spokeswoman at Urban Bank said the Salute Visa is part of a program “designed to provide access to credit for folks who would not otherwise qualify for credit.” The Salute Visa offered Ms. McLeod a $300 credit line. But a closer look at the fine print showed that $150 of that would go, as annual fees, to Urban Bank."
July 20th, 2008
National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People and, most recently, The soul of Capitalism.
Veteran journalist William Grieder thinks that we're not witnessing a temporary financial hiccup, but rather at the dawn on "Wall Street's great deflation." and it is far from over.The crash of IndyMac is just the beginning. More banks will fail, so will many more debtors. The crisis has the potential to transform American politics because, first it destroys a generation of ideological bromides about free markets. Democrats and Republicans are bipartisan in this crisis because they have colluded all along over thirty years in creating the unregulated financial system and mammoth mega-banks that produced the phony valuations and deceitful assurances. The federal government protects the most powerful interests from the consequences of their plundering. It prescribes 'market justice' for everyone else."
The root of the problem is the same as it has been for centuries: credit, which leads to debt that spirals into ever greater debt. Then those who are lenders gamble that they can make even more money by devising new and more lucrative ways for people to go more deeply into debt, while the people themselves gamble on what they consider a sure thing, just what they need to pay off their debts, or set themselves up for retirement, or finance their lifestyles, etc. It said in Psalm 15:5a," He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent."
— Ted Rudow III, MA, Menlo Park, CA