If you are a home owner, chances are pretty good you used your home as a sort of ATM with patio chairs in recent years to help pay for all those nifty goodies we Americans love to purchase whether we need them or not.
Well, the evidence now strongly shows the party is over!
The impact of the subprime mortgage crisis is now being felt in everything from credit card debt which can’t be repaid, to worries about being able to pay your child’s college tuition.
Look at some of these figures as compiled by the New York Times:
5.7 percent roughly of home equity lines of credit are now either delinquent or in default and that, says the Times, is up from 4.5 percent the year before.
Auto loans now show 7.1 percent as being in trouble…the year before, that figure was 6.1 percent.
Personal bankruptcy filings are inching upward.
A big problem, of course, is that as housing prices fall in many parts of the nation, people lose their ability to cash in against their house by refinancing and they can’t sell without suffering a significant loss.
The dirty little secret of the American economy is that its engine is fueled in large measure by the willingness of people to go out on a financial limb and use money they don’t have in the form of credit to buy things .
Once Americans stop doing that in large enough numbers, we have, in effect, altered the way our economy functions and we have yet to figure out a good way to compensate.
The truly scary thing is…maybe there isno way to compensate? Then what?