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Originally published October 13 2003

Personal Debt Out Of Control; U.S. Economy Awash in Debt

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

This story by Justin Lahart nails the issue with the kind of reporting that's both uncommon and courageous. Ringing the alarm bells on the U.S. economy is, well, unpopular. But Lahart is quite correct.

He describes the debt bubble as potentially dwarfing the stock market bubble of 2000. Personal debt is one of those things we all like to forget about. As long as we can keep making the monthly payment, we seem to think we'll be okay. And yet our future earnings are being eaten away at an accelerated rate, and there's no end in site.

It isn't just household debt or personal debt that's at stake here, either: the same addiction to debt exists at the national level, of course, where the ballooning national debt still receives almost no attention (even though interest in the national debt now accounts for somewhere around 17% of all government spending).

Consumer credit has hit an all-time high as a percentage of household income. Or, put another way, we've never been so indebted. We owe on credit cards, personal loans, and home mortgages. And personal bankruptcies are skyrocketing to the point where nearly 1.5 million Americans are expected to file for bankruptcy in 2004.

By all sane reasoning, these are alarming numbers. And eventually there are consequences. You're going to have to pay the debt sooner or later. And for many people, that debt just keeps snowballing. You're paying debt on top of debt, right? And those student loans are due, too, and you barely have enough cash to pay the rent and the car loan. Sound familiar? I know, I've been there, too.

To make matters even worse, we're all told that we have to keep spending to help the struggling economy. It's misguided, of course, since increasing personal debt across the board does nothing to help the economy in the long term. It's a simple fallacy that spending -- any spending at all -- is "good" for the economy. In fact, only useful spending is good for the economy. Spending on meaningful education, say, or investing in new technology or equipment that can be used to create new prosperity -- now that's "good" spending.

Finally, we have predatory lenders playing their part on all this. Banks are cashing in on the now-popular theme that you can erase your credit card debt by refinancing your home. That's great until you realize you're back in hock with the credit card companies a year later, and now you don't even own your house.

The real problem is that people just spend way too much. They buy a lot of things they don't need, and they keep buying, day after day, year after year, regardless of their ability to pay it.

Eventually, this bill is going to come due. We can't keep spending forever, not as individuals and not as a country. And the price for the bail out is going to be steep: ultimately, if this present trend continues, the U.S. dollars will become all but worthless on the global market. It's as inevitable as gravity.

The consumer debt bubble in the United States could make the stock bubble seem like nothing. NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The American consumer has become deeply addicted to spending, running up ever higher levels of debt in order to live in a fashion that is beyond his means. The perseverance of consumer spending over the past several years is credited with keeping the economy afloat, but it didn't come without consequence. "The U.S. economy is just awash in it." Indeed, consumer credit and mortgage debt are both a higher percentage of disposable income now than they've ever been before. U.S. consumer spending accounts for around 20 percent of world gross domestic product.

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