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WIN: Debt Figures Are Amazing

According to the Federal Reserve, report in a NYTimes article [3], Americans have nearly a trillion dollars of revolving debt (which includes credit card debt). That’s a lot of debt… oh yeah, total consumer debt is $2.57 trillion. Amazing right?

Those are two really big numbers huh? Well, if you were John Adams Kansas, President – Banking of Capital One Financial Corp., then that top number would be your total compensation package for 2007. If you were Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman, President and CEO of Capital One Financial Corp., then that bottom number would be your total compensation for 2007. In fact, if you were Richard D. Fairbank, you’d probably be upset about your number because it’s 45.5% less than what you got in 2006, which was nearly $37.5 million dollars.

Before people get all upset that they’re making so much money, their salaries are $0. Their bonuses are $0. It’s all in stock. I’m not pointing their salaries because I think it’s excessive, though they might be, I wanted to point out how ridiculous those numbers are. (Data taken from the July 2008 issue of Cards & Payments)

This is the most amazing debt story I’ve ever heard. When the story starts, Diane McLeod tells us that she has $286,000 in debt [4]. Her story is one of misstep after misstep, from rolling her credit card debt (~$25k) into an adjustable rate mortgage ($10k in fees, plus it adjusted) to raiding her 401(k) (which cost $3k in taxes, paid in credit cards). Along the way, she was given shoddy advice from people with their own interests in mind. I’m not absolving her of responsibility but someone had to extend her this credit. She’s not drowning in debt, she’s halfway to the center of the Earth.

This figure is again from the New York Times series The Debt Trap [5] (click on Start and then the lifetime link). The average household has thirteen credit cards. 40% of households carry a credit card balance. While having 13 cards doesn’t mean you’ll use them all, you can’t escape the 40% figure… especially when you couple it with that first number.

Guns won’t bring down America, debt will.