The Debt Dilemma

Part I describes the nature of credit card spending and explores the usefulness of Mann’s comparative approach to studying credit cards. Part II evaluates Mann’s findings on the overall relationships between individual credit card transactions and aggregate levels of spending, borrowing, and bankruptcy. It also briefly analyzes the relationship between his findings and policy recommendations. Part III explores data on families who refrain from credit card use and struggle with serious financial distress. Part IV revisits Mann’s policy recommendations in light of this new data. I conclude that implementing credit card reform would offer families only partial, albeit valuable, protection from the risks of our modern economy.