Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bernanke: Most in U.S. manage money well

Ben Bernanke spoke today in Washington, DC at the Fifteenth Congressional District of Texas'sÂ’ Fifth Regional Issues Conference about personal finance issues for Americans.

U.S. households overall have been managing their personal finances well. On average, debt burdens appear to be at manageable levels, and delinquency rates on consumer loans and home mortgages have been low
Really? That is news to me. How about the Negative US Savings Rate? This is exactly the time where you would expect a high savings rate, as retirement is fast approaching for tens of millions of baby boomers .

In the very same speech Mr. Bernanke talks about the 'democratization of credit ' and goes on to say "Payday lending outlets, a source of credit that was almost non-existent a decade ago, now number more than 10,000." The explosion of payday lending outlets is NOT something to cheer. These payday lending outlets cater to low income people who are often living paycheck to paycheck.

In large part, American's personal finances are in a sorry state. Mr. Bernanke states "U.S. households overall have been managing their personal finances well." Mr. Bernanke is wrong here, and the doubts about his leadership have thus grown.

44 comments:

  1. Doubts about Ben's leadership by whom? Anonymous Internet bloggers? Whoopdeefrickingdoodahday.

    Wake me up when Wall Street declares no faith in Ben.

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  2. This houseold is fine!

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  3. Wall Street is showing some mixed reactions.

    Stocks are tumbling on anticipation of additional rate increases but 10 yr bond yields drifted slightly lower.

    My $0.02.

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  4. "This houseold is fine!"

    Great sample size! LOL!

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  5. Bernanke is just cheerleading before another rate hike...trying to soften the blow. He knows that the economy is artificial, meaning that growth was accomplished through borrowing. That's where the negative savings rate comes from. It's amazing how many people to HELOCS to buy depreciating assets like plasma screens and cars.

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  6. "It's amazing how many people [turn] to HELOCS to buy depreciating assets like plasma screens and cars."

    Ironically, they currently are just moving their debt from one depreciating asset (the car) to another (the house).

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  7. David,

    Let's be honest. When it comes down to it - isn't ones personal situation (and close family and friends) all that really matters?

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  8. Fritz, Um.... Do you follow the financial news at all? There are severe doubts about Ben's leadership. Whether they are founded or unfounded the doubts are there.
    Bob

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  9. is "payday lending outlet" another name for "shady check-cashing place"? that is f'ing hilarious that he would say proliferation of those places is a good thing. i used to do construction, when we got paid on Fridays several guys from the crew would hit those places so they'd have drinking money for the weekend. i guess this is good if you own shares in Schlitz.

    otherwise, our Fed Chief is reaching.

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  10. va_investor,

    "Let's be honest. When it comes down to it - isn't ones personal situation (and close family and friends) all that really matters?"

    We all live in a civilized society and we are constantly interating with others. As other people's financial situation detiorates it affects all soceity negatively. We are all connected.

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  11. Except for bubbleheads.

    When the Great Housing Price collapse occurs, they will swoop in and make a fortune from those sucker homeowners. And they will also be immune from the economic maelstrom that such a collapse would cause.

    We're all connected. Except bubbleheads.

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  12. David,

    I should have said "all we really CARE about". Of course it all matters in some abstract sense.

    Unless you are Bill Gates or also hugely rich - one generally put's oneself and family first. That is my point.

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  13. "Unless you are Bill Gates or also hugely rich - one generally put's oneself and family first. That is my point."

    true.

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  14. va_investor,

    "Let's be honest. When it comes down to it - isn't ones personal situation (and close family and friends) all that really matters?"

    You would not be able to brag about your accumulation of wealth through real estate if the majority of the DC metro area residents were not doing well financially.

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  15. Sorry, David, you know I'm not averse to your thoughts on the housing market, but if you disagree with Bernanake on some economic matter, doubting Bernanke is not my first instinct.

    Payday lending may seem bad, but given that it's mostly replaced pawnshops, it may not be so awful.

    Many, maybe most people, probably do manage their credit well. It probably makes sense to save little when interest rates are low, and do your saving when they're high.

    There are some people who do a very poor job of managing their finances. Exactly what we need to do, if anything, to protect these people, is an area worth discussing.

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  16. Personal bankruptcies continue at a fast pace.

    Consumers have a net negative savings rates...first time since the Great Depression.

    Total amount of goods and services purchased by credit is reaching new heights each month.

    Income growth continues to move at a sluggish rate.

    Record number of home owners are using the exotic mortgage methods to pay for the high costs of real estate.

    The cost of college education and health care continue to skyrocket.

    Yeah, America is doing great with its finances. Get a clue, Ben!

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  17. I find it pretty racist and classist for David to be taking shots at the payday loans outlets. Are payday loans better than banks? No.

    But perhaps Davis is unaware that many people of color and of limited earnings simply can't use traditional banks either because they don't have any money in that bank or because they lack all the proper identification needed. So they're only remedy is to cash their checks at the only places that do take them as customers. Yes payday loan shops overcharge customers. But if it's a choice between paying a surcharge or not getting your check cashed, most people of color or of limited means won't hesitate. I'm sure that David and others like him are offended that a payday loan shop has opened up in their neighborhood because of the "wrong" kind of people it may attract. But for some of our most defenseless members of society, such shops are the only places where they can cash their checks.

    In the future, I would hope that David is more cautious about how things he post can be seen in a very uncaring manner by people of color and who aren't privileged to earn as much as he does.

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  18. "But perhaps Davis is unaware that many people of color and of limited earnings simply can't use traditional banks either because they don't have any money in that bank or because they lack all the proper identification needed."

    Why can't they get proper identification?

    At many Banks the minimuim of opening an account is $250

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  19. This is the sort of thing I was expecting.

    Why can't they get proper identification? Because some of them are undocumented workers. And others don't have the necessary paperwork to get government identification. I know it must be tough to understand unless one has walked in their shoes, but some people just aren't privileged like you to have been born in the right country, or with the right skin color, or with the right family.

    For them, their only option is the payday shops. And for you to criticize them for merely trying to cash their checks is grossly immoral. Who are you to criticize those less fortunate than you? Just because $250 isn't a whole lot of cash to you doesn't mean that's not a small fortune to others.

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  20. David never singled out a particular class or race. His comment was directed at the organizations that takes advantage of its low-income customers. It was the anonymous poster that brought class and race into the discussion.

    Surprise, surprise...

    My $0.02.

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  21. And another thing: Your attitude seems to be that it's the fault of people of limited means that they are either poor or black or brown. And that it's their fault they have to rely on payday places instead of opening a bank account like "real" people do.

    This attitude is dangerous and fascist! It's not the fault of the people at the bottom of our socio-economic strata that they are where they are! The blame lies with the system we have in place that forces these good people to remain in their "proper place." The attitude that you are expressing simply contributes to keeping these good and decent and hardworking people in their place.

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  22. Perhaps the "anonymous poster" had to bring up race and class because most of you have no idea what it's like to be poor and a minority. And it's the poor and minorities who rely on payday loan shops, not the latte-drinking folks.

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  23. To the anonymous poster, you make very excellent points but I think you're off topic.

    The fact that these payday lending institutes are thriving is despicable because they do take advantage of low income people. They loan money for fees that amount to interest rates in the 100's of percentage points. Yes hundreds. The fee and debt structure can quickly build to the point where someone can become quickly trapped in the cycle.

    Cashing a check for a fee, and taking out a shortterm loan against an upcoming check are 2 very different things.

    And I really believe David's original point was that Ben B's assertion that the proliferation of this readily available credit line is a good thing is laughable. For the reasons I mention and for the reasons you yourself give.

    My $0.02.

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  24. To me, debt is never a good thing, unless it is for shelter or education (ie. something that will pay for itself later). A household with well-managed finances earns interest rather than pay it.

    www.novabubble.blogspot.com

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  25. anon,

    I am not a racist or facist. I truly do believe that the vast majority of low income workers are hard working and law abiding people.

    Personal insults against me will NOT be tolerated and are subject to deletion. Be warned.

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  26. Debt makes us slaves to producers and property owners.

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  27. " I find it pretty racist and classist for David to be taking shots at the payday loans outlets"

    No, you made it racist by connecting it to "people of color", etc.

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  28. Anonymous,

    What is your point? David implied that these lending instituations are not a good development for the economy.

    Do you dispute this? If so, why?

    If not, then your point agrees with David.

    Either way you're the one that brought race and class into the discussion and then labeled David a racist/fascist.

    My $0.02.

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  29. "And it's the poor and minorities who rely on payday loan shops, not the latte-drinking folks."

    That may be true generally. But I know it is not scrictly true here in Marin County (one of the wealthiest counties in the country). My best friend (we've been friends since kindergarten) owns one of these shops. I visit him every Friday and have spent many hours in his shop. His clientele is almost entirely white. Incidentally, he has been amazed by how business has picked up over the last year suggesting financial stress here.

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  30. Enough already. "payday" loans are a red herring.

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  31. So let me get this straight - if I point out that your attitude against payday loans hurts those most at risk in society, then that is a personal insult against you? And then you delete what I said because you don't like what I said?

    Honey, you need to look up the meaning of fascist.

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  32. whoa, talk about a touchy subject...

    those payday lending outlets seem predatory to me, it's a captive niche so in a sense it's smart business. when this boom busts and the undocumented are RIF'd we'll see most these places shuttered.

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  33. Anonymous,

    You should pointed out why you think David was wrong without calling him a racist and classist. You hurled insults and that was inappropriate.

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  34. "So let me get this straight - if I point out that your attitude against payday loans hurts those most at risk in society, then that is a personal insult against you? And then you delete what I said because you don't like what I said?"

    When you accuse or suggest me to be a rascist or classist, then that is what I delete.

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  35. Your attitude on what poor and people of lessers means than you sure makes it seem like you think it's their fault that they are where they are in life. If you don't consider yourself a rascist or a classist, that's fine. But maybe you should think about what struggles others have to go through before disparaging how they live and survive.

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  36. Wow, Bernanke and the central bankers are drying up liquidity worldwide and the economy will now have to rely on payday loans for liquidity! That is the fricken dumbest thing I have ever heard from a central banker!

    And he goes on to say that families are managing debt well when we know that major adjustability is on the horizon.

    But we know that Bernanke is not an idiot. He is just providing a rationale for raising rates and stamping out inflation. He is either really believing that tightening won't sink the housing market, or else he is secretly trying to sink that market. I am not sure which.

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  37. When Bernanke says "the democratization of credit" what it means is that too many people are getting loans. This means by definition they are not managing their credit well.

    It is not good for someone with a low income to borrow to buy a bunch of things they can not afford. It would be better for them to save their money for the future. Pointing this out can not possibly be racist.

    Bernanke is not going to burst any bubbles. The bubbles will be burst for him, when foreign creditors eventually stop loaning us money.

    A Redskins fan

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  38. So it seems that illegals are good persons and poor and by virtue of these they have right to be here. Good point. There are billions and billions of poor people around the world and it would be a great service to them if somehow someone helps them to get smuggled them in this country, so that they have better life.

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  39. Hey anonymous #1,234,523, you are picking a fight where none exists. Personally, it looks like to me that you do not like the message of this blog and you will use any excuse to attack it even if you have to invent one.

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  40. David Lereah has a part in all this. In reality he is the one who was pushing the idea that everything is ok. Seems like Bernanke has bought into that very reasoning, which is emboldening him to raise interest rates. Be careful what you wish for David Lereah!!!!

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  41. Steinravnik, there's nothing magical about shelter that makes it good to go into debt for. I think we'd agree that getting a loan to pay your rent is not a sustainable living arrangement. The important thing is to use debt only for items that will give returns for as long or longer than you will be paying for them. Your car or house will last for longer than the payments. Of course you also have to be able to afford it. If you make 100K, borrowing to buy a 400K house may or may not be a bad idea. If you make 40K it is almost definately a bad idea.

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  42. Jim A said...
    Steinravnik, there's nothing magical about shelter that makes it good to go into debt for. I think we'd agree that getting a loan to pay your rent is not a sustainable living arrangement. The important thing is to use debt only for items that will give returns for as long or longer than you will be paying for them. Your car or house will last for longer than the payments. Of course you also have to be able to afford it. If you make 100K, borrowing to buy a 400K house may or may not be a bad idea. If you make 40K it is almost definately a bad idea.

    Well obviously there are limits to the amounts of risk one takes on, even if it is for education/shelter. That is why we are in a bubble, because too many people took too many risks. I didn't say that going into debt for a home was always a good idea, but given the right circumstances, it can. The point is this, going into debt for a home can be an acceptable debt to incur. Charging up your Visa is almost never a good idea.

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  43. The Fannie Mae fiasco is a derivative nightmere even the bosses from Enron Lay, and Jeffrey scalling would have trouble digesting(to hide the truth)! When this thing hits it's going to hit hard . Selling can be well a nightmere!! 666 919 or 911 meltmeter hotline

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