The Wall Street Journal reports on a disturbing trend, but one we’re not all that surprised about.
According to the paper, “as consumers max out their credit lines and banks clamp down on lending, many older and middle-class Americans are resorting to pricey, often-risky alternatives to stay afloat. Some are depleting their retirement accounts, tapping 401(k)s for both loans and hardship withdrawals. Some new fast-cash options allow homeowners to squeeze equity from their houses — without the burden of monthly payments. Americans are resorting to these more extreme measures due to the combination of dwindling jobs, falling home prices, shaky credit markets and a sharp run-up in food and energy prices. Consumer confidence hit a 28-year low in May, according to the latest Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment. Consumer spending and income inched up 0.2 percent in April from March, but after adjusting for inflation were flat, government data show.”