Today I joined (by phone) a working group meeting of the Asset Development Commission, gathering input for ways to strengthen public policy that would encourage asset-building.
There was much interest in a New York Times article in yesterday’s paper, “Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt,” by financial columnist Gretchen Morgenson.
This is the third most emailed article in the Times at the moment, so people outside the asset development field are certainly noticing it and discussing it. The piece is part of a series called “The Debt Trap,” about “the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible.”
There are some interesting graphics and sidebars, and even a calculator to see how you compare to other Americans in terms of indebtedness, which I suspect will be popular – people like to test their own opinion of just how virtuous or irresponsible they are.
One of the most troubling statistics in those graphics is that 40% of households today are carrying a credit card balance from month to month, compared to just 6% in the 1970s. Yikes!
After 90 minutes of discussion about public hearings, community engagement, CRA regulations, financial literacy, and savings tools, I had to hang up or my shoulder would have started to convulse (no, I haven’t entered the world of headsets yet — I still cradle the phone between head and shoulder while scribbling notes ignoring the voice of my chiropractor telling me I’m crazy). So I missed all the solutions to this debt trap we’re in. Perhaps they’ll be in the minutes.