America has a shocking new “savings and loan” crisis.
Consumer debt is surging to record highs, fueled by rising mortgage debt, student loans and a binge on credit card use. And more Americans are flat-out broke, with no emergency savings.
“Consumer debt is an ongoing personal financial crisis for many Americans,” said John Madison, CPA and personal financial counselor at Dayspring Financial Ministry. “The ease of obtaining ever-increasing levels of available credit traps many consumers into the illusion that they can buy whatever they want — regardless of their ability to repay the debt they take on.”
Despite borrowing beyond their means, many Americans are in a more upbeat economic mood lately. That positivity is propelling borrowing and spending to new highs, driven by the long-running US economic expansion, a soaring Dow Jones industrial average, low unemployment and rising average hourly pay.
But some analysts worry about the implications for today’s wild spending spree when the next recession inevitably hits.
“The lack of financial wiggle room will cause further stress for indebted households leading up to, and during, the next recession,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “When the economy slows, income drops, and layoffs rise, those living paycheck-to-paycheck will feel the squeeze soonest, and will show the quickest surge in delinquencies.”
Overall consumer debt skyrocketed to $13.7 trillion in the first quarter, according to the New York Federal Reserve. That total is led by big-ticket mortgage debt, tipping near $10 trillion, and escalating student loans of around $1.5 trillion.
Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of Americans have either no emergency savings, or less than enough to cover three months of expenses. That’s the highest percentage since Bankrate.com started tracking the data nine years ago.
And in a new survey by Gold IRA Guide, nearly a third