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.
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.
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The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”