The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt


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They note that while Americans during the s lived in a time of prolonged economic prosperity, there was, paradoxically, a percent increase in the rate of personal economic failure between and Using a study of 16 federal bankruptcy districts in five states, the authors find that, like "proverbial canaries in the mine shaft," the bankruptcies highlight five key stresses that America's middle class experiences today: Clear in purpose, this important work is highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Would you like to tell us about a lower price?

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Since , the number of American families filing for federal bankruptcy annually has exceeded one million. By most measures, those who file are members of the middle class - a group that has long provided stability and vitality for the American economic system. This raises the troubling question: The authors of this important book analyse court records and demographic data on thousands of bankruptcy cases, as well as debtors' own poignant accounts of the reasons for their bankruptcies. For many middle-class Americans, the findings show, financial stability is fragile - almost any setback can be disastrous.

The erosion of job stability, divorce and family instability, the visible and invisible costs of medical care, the burden of home ownership, and the staggering weight of consumer debt financed with plastic combine to threaten the financial security of growing numbers of middle-class families. The authors view the bankruptcy process in the light of changing cultural and economic factors and consider what this may signify for the future of a large, secure, and dynamic middle class.

Read more Read less. Prime Book Box for Kids. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America.

This Fight Is Our Fight: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. Customers who bought this item also bought. From Publishers Weekly A sizable portion of the U. Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention bankruptcy credit debtors income authors consumer cards bankrupt chapter file interest card general happen analysis so-called pay forgive society decades.

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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Borrower's default on various credits and bankruptcy are pretty much Middle Class phenomenon more than lower-income class. This makes sense as it takes a middle class income to get credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. The truly poor don't have enough income to get credit and go bankrupt.

The Legislature has often treated this Middle Class phenomenon with laws to strengthen creditors' rights such as the Bankruptcy Reform Act of The latter made it more challenging for consumers to file for bankruptcy. It made it especially challenging to file Chapter 7 complete discharge of debt ; and, often rerouted debtors towards Chapter 13 associated with debt repayment plans.

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard lawyer, has defended the Middle Class. She treats it not as an irresponsible dead beat; but instead as a victim of dubious creditors practices. They therefore find it profitable to aggressively push credit cards: One of the two main arguments of The Fragile Middle Class is that "the people who file for bankruptcy are a cross-section of society, and bankruptcy is a middle-class phenomenon. For example, "The primary petitioners were more likely than the general population to have gotten some higher education but less likely to have achieved a degree.

I found the other main argument much more compelling: Especially given the rapid increases in credit card debt, any of several shocks can push a family into bankruptcy. The most important such shocks are job-related reasons, credit cards, sickness and injury, divorce and family problems, or mortgage debt.

For families trying to manage large credit card balances, any setback can spell disaster. If someone loses a job, it is bound to create hardship. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study of displaced workers found that "only about a fourth of the displaced workers were working at full-time wage and salary jobs paying as much or more than they had earned at their lost job" with one-third not yet reemployed and one-quarter at new jobs with lower pay.

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans / Summit on the Economy

In those circumstances, expenses must be drastically and painfully reduced -- but there is no The latter made it more challenging for consumers to file for bankruptcy. It made it especially challenging to file Chapter 7 complete discharge of debt ; and, often rerouted debtors towards Chapter 13 associated with debt repayment plans. Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard lawyer, has defended the Middle Class. She treats it not as an irresponsible dead beat; but instead as a victim of dubious creditors practices.

As a result of her dynamic advocacy, the Legislature passed the Credit Card Act of to restrict credit card issuers abusive practices. And, she also implemented the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB to be a vigilant watch dog of nefarious financial service practices and improve the transparency of any consumer financial transaction. Warren has conducted extensive research with numerous social scientist on related subjects: And, "The Fragile Middle Class" is one of the cornerstones of her research compilation.

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This data driven book covers two extensive studies: Additionally, the book also covers many related time series data from to From her collective researches compiled within this book, Warren derives numerous interesting insights. First, the data confirms that bankruptcy is a Middle Class phenomenon. The bankrupt filers are not so different than the general population in terms of income, education, assets, etc And, she supports that with extensive graphs comparing the distribution of each variable.

She also uncovers that bankruptcy rates have skyrocketed from to This trend is associated with an equivalent skyrocketing of consumer debt level burden measured by debt to income ratios, and a similar rise in foreclosure rates. That is where Warren advanced that credit practices in issuing credit cards and mortgages were occasionally egregious and taking advantages of naive borrowers.

Warren's findings consumer debt unsustainable rise, rising foreclosure were over 20 years prior to the recent financial crisis. In other words, from her research she could see that a perfect storm was brewing. In addition to abusive creditors practices, Warren discovered that medical issues were a major reason people filed for bankruptcy.

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One chapter each is devoted to these reasons. View or edit your browsing history. Thanks for telling us about the problem. In other words, from her research she could see that a perfect storm was brewing. No trivia or quizzes yet. They therefore find it profitable to aggressively push credit cards:

Uncovered medical bills related to sometimes catastrophic medical events would cause the patient to pay the first few bills on his credit cards, and the second set on a home equity line. Pretty soon, the same person defaults on everything and loses a house to foreclosure, and has to file for bankruptcy.

The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt

So, medical bills were the engine of credit destruction. In , she conducted with other social scientists an updated study on medical related bankruptcies. This same study concludes: The US health care financing system is broken, and not only for the poor and uninsured. Middle-class families frequently collapse under the strain of a health care system that treats physical wounds, but often inflicts fiscal ones.

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The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt [Teresa A. Sullivan, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Westbrook] on linawycatuzy.gq *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt [Teresa A. Sullivan, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Lawrence Westbrook] on linawycatuzy.gq *FREE* shipping on qualifying.

In some ways, this is the authors' companion book to their excellent book, As We Forgive Our Debtors. The Fragile Middle Class is less academic than As We Forgive Our Debtors and focuses more on the people who fall into bankruptcy and less on the economics and supporting cast of players creditors and legal system that comprise the U. In this book, the authors could provide reasons for why some individuals find themselves at the mercy of the bankruptcy court. For the time-pressed, Chapter One, Americans in Crisis, aptly summarizes the contents of the book.

The book provides the reader with a comprehensive definition of what it means to be 'middle-class'. It also provides the key socio-economic reasons underlying bankruptcy. One chapter each is devoted to these reasons. Throughout, the stated goal of the authors was to tell the reader what the portrait of the bankrupt can tell us about the rest of society. The authors re-affirm the old refrain that economic insecurity has greatly increased in American society.

In many cases, as the authors demonstrate, more than one culprit may be at work in a particular bankruptcy. Perhaps the most interesting thing I noted in reading the book was the juicy little tidbit on credit cards on page While the authors readily admit that mere possession of a credit card will not lead to bankruptcy, they do insist that the level of such revolving debt for which they define the tipping point toward bankruptcy as short-term debt exceeding one and a half times gross annual income is critical, and take care to point out that the debts can keep on compounding at twenty-four percent interest, compounded monthly long after the cardholder has shredded his or her piece of plastic.

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In sum, this book was a very readable introduction to bankruptcy among the middle class.