Posted Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, at 4:27 PM
You're not going to hear a lot of cheerleading for credit card debt (personal financial advice—pay your credit card bills on time!) but if you look at this chart of nominal outstanding revolving credit per capita it's easy to see that the collapse of the past few years has put us below any kind of reasonable trend for what a growing economy with a positive rate of inflation ought to look like. Considering the dizzying heights to which debt rose, some kind of collapse was perhaps inevitable, but some recovery in these numbers would be very healthy. And recall that debt leads to spending leads to income, so it's not as if we're talking about the country immiserating itself as such.