December 1, 2008
Commercial bank exposure via the total amount of credit card loans outstanding has risen more in the last 10 weeks than it did in the previous 10 months cobined. Moreover, the growth in the last 10 weeks — $32.3 billion, or roughly $600 million per shopping day — represents nominal growth of 9.3%, or 48.3% annualized over the last 10 weeks. According to American Express, delinquencies on credit payments rose to 4.1% of all credit outstanding in the third quarter, up from 2.5% in 2007, with Bank of America’s rate rising even more steeply – to 5.9% for the period. Moreover, the pool of loans deemed uncollectable rose to a high 6.7% in the third quarter, soaring from 3.6% last September. What consumer spending there is has been fueled in part by credit card: The second-largest merchant-vendor for credit card use is now McDonalds. This suggests that many consumers are in serious distress if they need to get their $4 Big Mac and fries with a credit card.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The unemployment rate is currently 6.5%, according to U-3 government figures. The broadest U-6 measure, which includes discouraged and marginally attached workers, is 11.8%. If you’re still discouraged and jobless after 1 year, the government ignores you in its calculation. How convenient. If these workers were to be included, the unemployment rate is currently 16%. When someone tells you our current situation isn’t close to the Great Depression because unemployment was 25% in the 30s, keep this chart in mind. We’ve lost 1.2 million jobs in 10 months. The U-3 rate will reach 9% by late 2009. That would be another 3.6 million job losses. These are the kind of numbers that could lead to social unrest. Our social services system and food banks will be pushed to the breaking point.