There’s an interesting article in yesterdays New York Times about American debt, complete with interactive features and debt calculators to compare your debt load to others: Given a shovel, Americans Dig Deeper into Debt.
Years of spending more than they earn have left a record number of Americans like Ms. McLeod standing at the financial precipice. They have amassed a mountain of debt that grows ever bigger because of high interest rates and fees.
While the circumstances surrounding these downfalls vary, one element is identical: the lucrative lending practices of America’s merchants of debt have led millions of Americans — young and old, native and immigrant, affluent and poor — to the brink. More and more, Americans can identify with miners of old: in debt to the company store with little chance of paying up.
It is not just individuals but the entire economy that is now suffering. Practices that produced record profits for many banks have shaken the nation’s financial system to its foundation. As a growing number of Americans default, banks are recording hundreds of billions in losses, devastating their shareholders.
There’s a meme in the local media that Canadians are more financially conservative than Americans, and while that may certainly be true I wonder about Vancouverites specifically – With our negative savings rate, relatively low incomes and high housing costs are the residents of this city really that different from some of the more extreme US cases?