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The large amount of credit card debt - and other lines of credit - held by consumers prior to the beginning of the recession may be what's holding the country back from faster economic recovery.

Many economists now believe that the large amount of credit card debt Americans held in the late 2000s is keeping the economy from making a speedier recovery, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Prior to the recession, the average American household's various debts amounted to about 127 percent of its annual income, leaving consumers with more to pay off, and restraining their ability to increase spending even as the economy began to lumber back toward recovery.

The 127 percent compares with just an 84 percent debt-to-income ratio in the 1990s, the report said. In addition to debt, the largely stagnant job market has also depressed confidence, leading to even less spending.

However, all of the nation's major credit card lenders have seen instances of both delinquency and default slip considerably over the last year, though many experts attribute much of these declines to previous charge offs, rather than more conscientious bill payments.