In 1998, Americans' personal debt totaled $562 billion. By 2003, that was up to $722 billion, said Jordan Goodman, spokesman for the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index based in Agawam, Mass., which sur veys 1,000 Americans each month on their debt and their attitudes about debt.
We should be worried, said credit counselor Adam Dantzscher of Dantzscher & Associates in South Burlington, because the problem trickles into the rest of the population.
From a business perspective, bankruptcies mean credit card companies lose millions of dollars in income, which raises interest rates for the rest of the debt-paying public. Bankruptcies mean less ability to spend. Less spending means less revenues for companies. Less revenue for companies could lead to company cutbacks and, sometimes, layoffs.
Those who are caught in the labyrinth of mounting bills and interest payments sometimes find themselves in a credit counselor's office. Dantzscher has seen his business increase by 15 percent over the last year.
Many counselors' clients have lost their jobs in the recession, and turned to the low-interest loans and credit cards to survive -- desperado debt, Goodman called it. A third of America practices desperado debt, he said.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
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