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Is a Credit Card Crisis Next in Line?

The latest estimate I saw for US credit card debt stood at $915 billion. I don't know exactly where it stands today, but the number seems to rise 10 billion or so every time I hear it mentioned. It may sound like a familiar number to you as well, since it's a mere $15 billion more than the amount of consumer debt that drove the subprime mortgage meltdown earlier this year.

A Cashless Life

It's a rare day when you are able to walk through any major city's downtown or financial district without being asked at least once: "Can you spare some change?" My answer is always, "No, sorry!" It's not that I'm void of all compassion or that I don't want to give away the money I've worked so hard to earn. But unless the panhandler has a credit card machine in his pocket, I literally can't spare change because I don't physically have any! I cannot remember the last time my wallet even came close to smelling the scent of a USD bill of any denomination.

Financing A New Condo Purchase? Don't Call ING

"How can I save your money", answered the customer service rep. I responded and said, "By giving me a good rate on a home loan with low closing costs." He uttered a fake courtesy laugh in return. I did the same. I've been planning to call ING since a bright orange postcard arrived in the mail a few days ago marketing the popular Orange Mortgage. Low closing costs and a 5.25% rate sounded pretty good, and since I'm in the market for a new place, I thought I would check it out.

Arbitrage Strategy for HELOCs

arbitrage Real estate values continue to do a big cannonball in the deep end, and some lenders are trimming their exposure to home equity by shutting down idle lines of credit on their books.

What the Sam Hill is a Credit Default Swap?

If you’re paying attention at all to our current economic crisis, then you’ve probably heard the term “credit default swap (CDS)” enough to at least make you wonder what it is. Most recently, credit default swaps played a vital role in the federal government’s decision to bail out AIG, since they determined that a huge chain of failures across the international financial system might occur if AIG were to fail and default on the swaps it sold. Must be a big deal, right? They are.

What Will Become of the Old "Zip-Zap" Machine?

In yet another effort to cut the cost of card issuance and increase consumer activation and usage, Visa announced last week "it will begin supporting the issuance of unembossed credit cards in the U.S. for Visa consumer debit, business debit, and consumer credit cards." I'm not sure what the world will be like without textured credit cards, but I suspect things will not change too much.

Economic Crisis: Perspective Is Everything

Having worked at the World Trade Center, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and one of the country’s largest insurance firms, I feel very connected to many of the institutions and events that are in the news every day. I never could have imagined the changes the financial industry has experienced over the last seven years, and, with this most recent economic crisis, I know that many are wondering, “What in the world is going on” and “How does it affect me?” Let me first say that despite what the media would have you believe, we have seen this before and we will get through it.


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