Americans Just Went on a $32 Billion Credit Card Shopping Spree

Americans Just Went on a $32 Billion Credit Card Shopping Spree

Credit cards are pictured in a wallet in Washington, February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Stelios Varias
© Stelios Varias / Reuters
By Millie Dent

Americans may be heading for another credit card crunch. After paying down almost $35 billion in credit card debt in the first quarter of the year, consumer charged up a storm in the second quarter, racking up $32.1 billion in new debt, according to CardHub, a credit card comparison site. CardHub says that’s the second highest quarterly total since it began keeping data on credit card debt in 2009.

While that buying binge could potentially signal improved confidence in the economy and in their own financial prospects, CardHub warns that the debt risks are building. It projects that consumers will close out the year with an annual net increase of more than $60 billion in credit card debt, with the total credit card debt outstanding climbing to more than $900 billion, the highest since the recession.

Related: 5 Cities with the Most Credit Card Debt

CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou says that jump brings Americans “perilously close to a tipping point at which balances become unsustainable and delinquency rates skyrocket.”

For 7 out of the past 10 quarters, consumers have racked up more debt than they’ve paid off. Papadimitriou cites that as evidence that consumers are going back to the bad habits they had before the economic downturn.

CardHub based its study on data from the Federal Reserve, and if the results are a sign of trouble then another new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that problem is even worse than it looks.  In a report called “Do We Know What We Owe,” the New York Fed found that people widely underestimate their credit card debt, telling the Fed’s survey-takers that it’s about 37 percent lower than what lenders say it is.

So if we are actually getting to a tipping point with credit card debt, it may be even closer than we realize.

Top Reads From The Fiscal Times

Warren’s Taxes Could Add Up to More Than 100%

iStockphoto/ James Group Studios, Inc.
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin says Elizabeth Warren’s proposed taxes could claim more than 100% of income for some wealthy investors. Here’s an example Rubin discussed Friday:

“Consider a billionaire with a $1,000 investment who earns a 6% return, or $60, received as a capital gain, dividend or interest. If all of Ms. Warren’s taxes are implemented, he could owe 58.2% of that, or $35 in federal tax. Plus, his entire investment would incur a 6% wealth tax, i.e., at least $60. The result: taxes as high as $95 on income of $60 for a combined tax rate of 158%.”

In Rubin’s back-of-the-envelope analysis, an investor worth $2 billion would need to achieve a return of more than 10% in order to see any net gain after taxes. Rubin notes that actual tax bills would likely vary considerably depending on things like location, rates of return, and as-yet-undefined policy details. But tax rates exceeding 100% would not be unusual, especially for billionaires.

Biden Proposes $1.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Pittsburgh
Aaron Josefczyk
By Yuval Rosenberg

Joe Biden on Thursday put out a $1.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. The 10-year “Plan to Invest in Middle Class Competitiveness” calls for investments to revitalize the nation’s roads, highways and bridges, speed the adoption of electric vehicles, launch a “second great railroad revolution” and make U.S. airports the best in the world.

“The infrastructure plan Joe Biden released Thursday morning is heavy on high-speed rail, transit, biking and other items that Barack Obama championed during his presidency — along with a complete lack of specifics on how he plans to pay for it all,” Politico’s Tanya Snyder wrote. Biden’s campaign site says that every cent of the $1.3 trillion would be paid for by reversing the 2017 corporate tax cuts, closing tax loopholes, cracking down on tax evasion and ending fossil-fuel subsidies.

Read more about Biden’s plan at Politico.

Number of the Day: 18 Million

Win McNamee/Getty Images
By The Fiscal Times Staff

There were 18 million military veterans in the United States in 2018, according to the Census Bureau. That figure includes 485,000 World War II vets, 1.3 million who served in the Korean War, 6.4 million from the Vietnam War era, 3.8 million from the first Gulf War and another 3.8 million since 9/11. We join with the rest of the country today in thanking them for their service.

Chart of the Day: Dem Candidates Face Their Own Tax Plans

Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren participate in the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston
MIKE BLAKE/Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Democratic presidential candidates are proposing a variety of new taxes to pay for their preferred social programs. Bloomberg’s Laura Davison and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou took a look at how the top four candidates would fare under their own tax proposals.