by Frank Lowenstein, via Planet Change
The economic crash of 2008 motivated many of us to pay closer attention to our finances, and we are beginning to see the benefits: Americans’ savings rates have increased roughly four-fold since the record low of 2005; debt-to-income ratios are down 22 percent since late 2007. This makes good common sense. None of us want to join the wave of millions of Americans who have had to file for bankruptcy as their personal finances collapsed in the face of unexpected stresses – loss of a job, collapse of a home’s value, decline in stock prices. Sometimes bankruptcy came when stresses piled on, as when the loss of a job deprived a family of health insurance and then a medical emergency hit.
The financial crisis took most of us by surprise, even though economists and experts in the banking industry had been warning of looming disaster for months or even years. And it was not a pleasant surprise; those bankruptcy statistics translate into homelessness, suffering, and anxiety.
Just as unsustainable debts, freewheeling lending practices and ignored financial warnings led up to the economic melt-down of 2008, so as a nation we have ignored warnings of ...