How Americans Buried Themselves $13 Trillion Deep in Debt

Total US consumer debt: $12.84 trillion

A woman checks a receipt.

A woman checks a receipt. | iStock.com/lenanet

According to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York release, which is where we’ve pulled all the following data from, the total U.S. consumer debt is $12.84 trillion. Now, with that out of the way, we’ll get into the thick of it.

The real issue here is not just that Americans have a lot of debt. Some debt is necessary, after all. It’s that we seem to be taking on more of it even as we’re facing some very real and scary economic issues, such as decreasing job prospects and increasing levels of income inequality. The key is this, according to the New York Fed’s report: “Total household debt increased by $114 billion (0.9%) to $12.84 trillion in the second quarter of 2017.”

You may pull out your hair saying, “What are these people thinking?” Or you can take this as a positive sign. People generally borrow when they’re confident they can pay it back, right? We’ll get into this on the following pages.

Next: We’ll start by digging into the single biggest source of debt for American consumers: housing.

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