Business: Is It Dangerously High?

CONSUMER CREDIT

CONSUMER credit in the U.S. last week stood at an alltime record of $136 billion, and was still rising fast. Since 1948, total U.S. mortgage debt for homes and farms has jumped from $56 billion to $114 billion. Installment credit, a modest $9 billion seven years ago, has reached a whopping $22.5 billion. This rapid rise in credit has raised a big question among economists: Are consumers so overloaded with debt that there is danger of a great crash?

Actually, the danger of overextended credit is more a bogeyman than real. While the...

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