FROM Kelli Grant
Holiday Shopping, China and Economic Recovery Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the US economy, so the holiday shopping season is an important measure of economic recovery. This year, it started early, and the big question is, how long will it last?
Consumer Spending and Economic Recovery Consumer spending is 70 percent of the US economy, so what did Black Friday and Cyber Monday reveal about this year's holiday season? The 90 percent who are still employed are beginning to spend again. If Americans spent their way into the Great Recession, can we spend our way out of it? President Obama said today the US needs to get back to what it used to be famous for: inventing, building and exporting goods that say Made in America. Does the US need to become more like China is now, and does China need to be more like America used to be?
As Interest Rates Tumble, Credit Card Rates Climb Interest rates for the US Treasury, business firms and home-buyers are going down but, despite new regulations, the rates for credit card borrowing are going up. New laws limit banks’ ability to increase rates on people who get behind on their credit cards. Credit card companies have responded by increasing rates on everybody. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports that rates are at their highest level in nine years. Kelli Grant is senior consumer reporter for SmartMoney.com .
The Credit Card Economy Comes Home to Roost Credit card companies offered high limits and low interest rates to millions of US consumers. Then came the Great Recession. When we first broadcast this program in March, companies were reducing credit lines, jacking up rates and closing accounts — and they're still at it. Credit card reform was passed and signed into law, but Congress gave the industry nine months to end most of the outlawed practices. So what you hear today will be valid through this year's Christmas season. We can still ask, who's looking out for consumers?
The Credit Card Economy Comes Home to Roost The credit card industry has extended $5 trillion in available credit.” So far, only $800 billion is currently owed. But, as more and more people look to credit cards as a way to coping in tough times, “easy credit” is becoming a thing of the past. What happens when an industry that extends “easy credit” in good times has to contract? Is anyone looking out for consumers?
The Credit Card Economy Comes Home to Roost Credit card companies made big money by extending balances and reducing interest rates to millions of US consumers. But times have changed. Now, when other businesses are desperate for customers, credit card companies are reducing credit lines, jacking up rates and even closing accounts. But, when their “best” customers charge a lot but pay back only a little, how do they decide who to get rid of and who to keep on the hook? What happens when an industry that extends “easy credit” in good times has to contract? Is anyone looking out for consumers?
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.