- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
The spouse, a now-retired professor of film studies, who was certainly entitled to be considered “outstanding in his field,” addressing movies from a literary and communications media perspective and having authored a couple of biographies of Nevil Shute Norway and Charlie Chaplin, as well as the totally original study of movies about war, “Looking Away; Hollywood and Vietnam“, is not really a studious person. Indeed, it’s quite likely that he moved from the study of novels and poems to film because movies made it possible for him to be somewhere else, even as he had to sit still in a room. So, it is a running joke with people looking for him now to be told that he’s out, standing in his field, admiring his , most which (13) he has dug by hand. Obviously, other people can admire them, too, and they don’t even have to be out standing in the field. They can see them from the road.
But, that’s not really the point of this post. This intro is just to explain my somewhat astonished amusement at a report from the Federal Reserve that I happened to peruse today, which may explain how come everybody seems to be so confused about debt.
The formal title of this report, which the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis issues quarterly, with about a two month delay – preliminary figures for the quarter that ended in September came out on November 7th – is “Consumer Credit-G.19.” I mention that with such specificity, because this is a document certainly worth perusing, especially when you realize that the top category, “Consumer Credit Outstanding,” actually refers to what consumers owe to banks and other financial institutions, including, increasingly, the Federal government.
They call it credit because, of course, they’re looking at money from the perspective of the banks. They have extended credit to consumers and consumers bit and, as a result, the consumers are now in debt. But, you’d never know it from the accounts. From the perspective of a normal person, the whole system is ass-backwards. Indeed, most recently, the banks are issuing debit cards, which actually mean they’re holding money for you in an account and, if you want to use it, they’ll charge a processing fee. And consumer credit outstanding does not refer to the max the bank has agreed to lend, but that hasn’t yet been spent. No, “consumer credit outstanding” is the sum total of what we all owe, loans on real estate excepted.
As of September 2012, projected, American individuals are in debt to the tune of two trillion, seven hundred and twenty-two billion dollars, not including what we owe on our houses. That’s almost two hundred billion more than we owed at the end of 2007, but in 2009 we owed almost a hundred billion less than before the crash. Which means that the banks were collecting less interest. Moreover, the chart of “major holders” of debt reveals that where we owed the federal government a mere ninety three billion back in 2007, in 2012 that’s projected to have increased to five hundred and nine billion dollars.
A footnote explains:
Consumer loans held by the federal government include loans originated by the Department of Education under the Federal Direct Loan Program, as well as Federal Family Education Loan Program loans that the government purchased from depository institutions and finance companies.
No wonder the banks aren’t happy. That’s about four hundred billion on which they’re no longer collecting interest – the interest, btw, which is still due but which is now supposed to pay for Medicaid expansion.
See, now that’s what I call an outstanding deal – one for which the Obama Administration deserves credit. ‘Cause, I for one, definitely prefer debts being owed to us, rather than the greedy banksters. And, you know, they were greedy. If they’d been content with a modest service charge for handling our bank accounts, they wouldn’t have had these recurring crashes.
That’s not just my opinion. Listen to Warren Stephens, the Lord of Little Rock, who calls himself a middleman, expound on how prudent investment is done.
Finally, it’s no wonder people don’t know which way is up when the economic jargon is laced with euphemisms, to boot. Consumer credit outstanding!! That’s debt, buddy, and we can handle it. Our Uncle Cons are counting on us to continue to be confused.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
I had an interesting morning yesterday at the Free Clinic. Once a week I’m a Spanish interpreter in an organization supported by over 400 volunteers who give a few hours a week of their particular expertise in a smoothly run team. We cater for patients with chronic conditions needing regular medication, having no access to health insurance. Yesterday we met a new patient who is deaf and mute since birth. We took her through her eligibility interview with a social worker, then a nurse took her health history, followed by a doctor's consultation and a laboratory test. In the seven years I Read on →
When I sat in that old church built in the Gothic style surrounded by the music that the organist was playing, I was thankful to be in such a peaceful setting, far away in body and spirit from the violence that holds so many lives hostage in this world of cruelty and tumult. In a church where people pray for peace, forgiveness and love--all of which seem so lacking in our world--I wonder at times how we manage to reconcile what we wish the world were like and how it actually is. Sitting there in such a calm and safe spot, Read on →
When music publisher John Stark first heard Scott Joplin play his piano, he knew that ragtime was the music of hope for a new America. But Joplin would never be content with popularity and fame. Joplin committed himself to racial justice in the early 1900’s. He was inspired by Booker T. Washington and the Dahomeyan defeat in West Africa. But due to this earnest pursuit, he was ignored by the masses for writing the music of Civil Rights fifty years before America was ready to listen. King of Rags, by Professor Eric Bronson, is a historical fiction account of the quest for r Read on →
Anything characterized by high energy, originality, humor and intelligence is bound to get my attention. I was at an annual fund-raising party for an alternative art center called Nexus in about 1986. Touring the studios I kept being distracted from the visual art by some very interesting Rock 'n Roll. I wasn't the only one. A large segment of the crowd was gathered around the Swimming Pool Qs in the courtyard. Once in their vicinity I was there for as long as they would play. In any field of endeavor certain efforts stand out and the Qs were (are) definitely one Read on →