[Times] We’re not nearly out from under the subprime mortgage meltdown and already analysts are speculating about the next industry crisis, related to the little plastic cards in your wallet. With American Express becoming a bank-holding company this week in order to get low-cost funds and share in the $700 billion bailout pool, it’s clear that even traditionally resilient industries like credit cards are feeling pressured. « Credit cards are in line to fall, » says Adam Levitin, associate law professor at Georgetown University. « The question is whether they will beat out the auto industry — they’re racing for the honors. »
The economy’s deep troubles are pushing a growing number of already struggling consumers into bankruptcy, often with far more debt than those who filed in previous downturns.
[Economist] IN JUST a few brutal months, the prospects for the world economy have deteriorated with remarkable speed. Rich countries had seemed set for a shallow, muddle-through recession; now a much deeper slump is on the cards. In a sign of growing concern about American consumers, the Treasury and Federal Reserve on November 12th focused their rescue efforts on loans for cars and college and on credit cards. Central banks, recently so fearful of inflation, are now slashing interest rates to stop it falling too far. It will not be easy: deflation—annual falls in consumer prices—is increasingly likely next year. But recalling the 1930s, policymakers will be anxious to ensure that it does not take hold and turn crisis into catastrophe.