The good news is that since the financial meltdown of 2008, Americans have managed to shed a lot of the debt that made them so vulnerable to financial downturns. The bad news is that some of this debt is simply transferring to other debt, which helps t explain why the economy is showing such anemic growth. In a series of charts by UC Berkeley Economics Ph.D. student Owen Zidar, the U.S. is showing stagnant wages and low inflation, which makes it hard to pay down debt without cutting back elsewhere. Meanwhile, while household mortgage debt has decreased, it’s mainly because people are opting to go to school instead, building up student loan debt. Also, the number of defaults on debt has not been so great as to change the conditions of credit from banks. As a result, the people who owe less than before can’t borrow, and the people who can borrow don’t owe less than before.

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