Credit Card Fueled Binges No Longer Bring A Smile To US Consumers' Faces

Tyler Durden's picture

To be happy is to be confident. And at least until the recent past, in America to be confident, meant to have purchasing power, which pretty much always, at least for the bulk of the population, meant to lever up, i.e., to take on debt and to spend it on worthless crap. Well, as we reported earlier this week, in December the US population literally jumped head first right back into the credit frenzy, experiencing the largest jump in unadjusted consumer credit since the peak of the credit bubble. however, very much contrary to naive interpretations that this would reignite the economy, as Lance Roberts explained, and as Charles Hugh Smith confirmed showing plunging gasoline usage, it merely indicated that with savings again at record lows, US consumer have no choice but to dig deep into their credit card stash merely to pay for staples, and non-discretionary spending. And one hardly is happy when one purchases a roll of toiler paper (not to be confused with US Treasurys - there is far less than 15.4 trillion pieces of toiler paper in the world) on credit. Sure enough, as the following chart from John Lohman demonstrates, the recent (mini) reincarnation (because it will last at most a month or two) of the consumer credit bubble has done absolutely nothing for consumer confidence. In fact, today's UMichigan data showed a decline in confidence. Which shows  all one needs to know about just what the true state of the US consumer is...

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Texas Ginslinger's picture

I ride a bike to work whenever possible, weather and scedule permitting.  Blame some of the gas usage slump on me.


SemperFord's picture

I do the same thing and it only takes me 20 minutes more since I take the metro part of the way but I have been dropped twice in 3 years and if I really get hurt by a dumbass driver I'm going to wish I had just driven!!!

Sudden Debt's picture

I drive my bike at least once a month... I try to ride it once a month and.... When it doesn't rain of course and..... And it isn't to cold and... Or hot.... And windy.... So i drove my bike last year and it was kind of fun. I think i might even do it this year also!

Janice's picture

I ride my bicycle, roller skate, don't drive no car
Don't go fast, but I go pretty far
Sometimes I feel that you're avoiding me
I'm okay alone, but you've got something I need.

Oh I've got a brand new pair of roller skates, you've got a brand new key.

DavidC's picture

I was going to link the Queen video for 'Bicycle Race' but YouTube won't let me view it without signing in or creating an account that it might be inappropriate for some users...

No, I'm not joking!


EnglishMajor's picture

Here are some statisitcs from 2005 regarding the number of people bicycling to work. Did these numbers suddenly double, triple, quadruple? Did Portland ban cars altogether? 


Percent of Trips to Work by Bicycle in Largest U.S. Cities

Bicycling rates are higher in cities than throughout states.  Employees in major U.S. cities are 1.7 times more likely to bike to work than those in the states surveyed. Portland, OR has the highest share of those who bike to work with 3.47 percent of all trips to work by bicycle, followed by  Minneapolis (with 2.42 percent) and Seattle (at 2.31 percent). Kansas City has the lowest bike share of work trips of all major U.S. cities with only 0.02 percent of work trips by bike.

And do people really bike to work in Minneapolis in the middle of winter?


Spastica Rex's picture

I ride my bike to the grocery store to buy rice and beans becasue I'm unemployed.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

As I pointed out, Charles Hugh Smith is perpetually weak in analyzing matters oil relevant.

No, gasoline use did not fall because discretionary driving fell.  That's absurd.  Sunday afternoon drives with the family ended decades ago.

The reason we are seeing a fall in gas use is 1) unemployment and consequent reduction in commutes and 2) most importantly, compression of household total means 1 trip to the grocery store to stock up on necessities for 1household, not 3 or 4 households.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

The december credit binge can be laid at the feet of old st. nick. Credit cards are used for travel and presents. December should be the peak,except for those who buy groceries and diapers with plastic.

Unsecured debt,aka credit cards will be the last thing the unemployed stop using but they have to be close to banging up against their credit limit by now.

So will the riots of the summer of 2012 be bigger than the riots of the summer of 2013?

People are reaching their limits, things are unravelling. desperation is being felt, fear cannot be far away. Desperate people will do desperate things.

kito's picture

Spas you are far too witty to be unemployed.....

Esso's picture

Hey, how's the "KITO 2012 SNAP BEER" presidential campaign coming along?

The only guy I hear less about in the MSM is some dude named Ron Paul. 

Spastica Rex's picture

I keep looking for "Wit Wanted" advertisements in the paper, but so far nuthin'. Society rarely needs more than one Oscar Wilde at a time.

lotsoffun's picture

have you tried  he is the funniest thing i've seen in decades - and he needs some new writers.

rufusbird's picture

Joe Pine type TV anchors are always in demand if you can make the transmogrification...

HD's picture

Rice and beans are excellent - almost nutritionally complete.  Unfortunately, if that rice you are buying is grown in the southeast United States - it has a "perfectly safe" level of inorganic arsenic from pesticides used decades ago.

FDA denied it, then tried covered it up, then to spin it, now ignores it.

Gotta love America.

Sam Clemons's picture

Brown basmati seems better for health.  Plus, rice should be soaked in a food grade hydrogen peroxide/water combo prior to cooking to improve digestibility and kill mold from processing and storage.

You would be amazed how much mold is on most rice, walnuts and barley.  Good quality beans aren't too bad.

Spastica Rex's picture

Actually, I switched from rice to buckwheat groats. A little more expensive, but nutritionally superior, I think. 

DaveyJones's picture

beans are easy to grow and return nitrogen to the soil. Fava beans are amazingly tough. They can grow right through a northwest winter and you can eat the leaves. Brown rice has the protein as well. 

lotsoffun's picture

arsenic isn't so bad - you can develop an immunity to it.  check out the ages old arsenic eaters assasins from mediteranean region.



smb12321's picture

Whereas Indian and Chinese rice is eco-friendly, safe and nutritious?   Their use of pesticides is like ours in the 60's.   In fact, the difference between usage now and then is stark since many rice types are modified against weeds.

lasvegaspersona's picture

Riding a bike in Las Vegas is considered a suicide gesture....actually it is closer to an attempt

Freddie's picture

Hope & Change with the Democrat's muslim.

Deo vindice's picture

I ride my bike to the grocery store to buy rice and beans becasue I'm unemployed.

Hey. At least you're part of the % that has a bike!

mumbo_jumbo's picture


i think it's great that you ride your bike to work but i take issue with the stupid driver comment.  it's been my experience that it's the bike riders that have the 'stupid' label.  just today i almost ran over a biker......he was riding on the side walk going in the wrong direction. As i was pulling out he decieded to come off the side walk into oncoming traffic and pass in front of me as i was pulling out......he'd gotten really hurt had i not slammed on the breaks (and almost got rearended as someone else was behind me).

bike riders here in socal are out of control and ride as if they are a mix of pedistrain and automobile.....

just sayin.

HungrySeagull's picture

I hit some shit on a bridge that was never cleaned up in the dark and did a face plant right in front of a heavy haul.

So there I lay hearing the air brakes and jacobs brakes kick in coming down on me figuring I was finished.

Truck driver got it stopped 10 feet from me.

I told him I was a driver too and he asked me what the *&^% am I doing on a *&^% bike?

I still have that bike. It's over 30 years old and unfit *As I am) for any more riding.

I use credit as a weapon because the account it draws from has cash in it. No worries.

taniquetil's picture

Hey gas and insurance ain't cheap y'know. I walk to work, although it's getting mighty cold these days.

LaLiLuLeLo's picture

I gave up my car in august albeit not by choice. Americans should take the initiative and get used to riding a bike before its necessary.

SwingForce's picture

When you think about all the taxes and gov't fees that a car generates:

  1. Income tax on the factory worker
  2. Corporate tax on the factory
  3. Sales tax on the sale
  4. Income tax on the salesman
  5. Corporate tax on the Dealer
  6. Corporate tax on the Finance Company
  7. Insurance fees, income tax, etc to Insurance agency
  8. Title and license plate fees
  9. Yearly Registration fees
  10. Gasoline tax ( 70+ cents a gallon)
  11. Tolls on highways and bridges
  12. Parking Fees (Municipal, events)
  13. Tickets & Citations (parking, speeding, accidents)
  14. Sales tax again when 2nd owner buys used car
  15. Sales tax again when 3rd owner buys used car.....

ilion's picture

The US economy will collapse together with the Eurozone. ArmadaMarkets daily market digest said the most important development would be to watch Greek austerity package being approved this weekend. Greeks will most likely come to the streets en masse.

nodhannum's picture

I drive my motorscooter if at all possible, which is a lot.  So far, I have put 22,000 miles on it in three years and that is going to go up.  Try 70 mpg for a change.  My truck which gets only 17 mpg, stays at home unless I need it for some heavy duty work.

mlbs's picture

Hear, Hear. I got one of those cheap, generic, chinese scooters about 7 months ago. I crack up at all of the people in their giant trucks that gun it to pass me, only to have me catch up to them at the next red light.

lotsoffun's picture

you have it right mister mlbs - but they have much bigger 'things' then you do.  and tv advertising has made most of us feel smaller with out big things.


my tv is 80 inches.  my freezer can handle two sides of beef.  my washing machine does thirty loads.  my wife has boobs the size of texas.  (they aren't real - but does that matter?)      :)

buy more, spend more and wait for obama bailouts.



DaveyJones's picture

Boobs are a lot like Texas or should I say, parts of Texas. Some are filled with valuable fluids, others have dried out. Some are hotter than others but overall, as they get older, many tend to move south.

duo's picture

Same here.  If the weather is nice, I can commute to work and back, including going out or home for lunch, for a week on a gallon of gas.  At my previous job I probably used 3 gal/day in city traffic.

Abitdodgie's picture

I had a freind who bought one of those electric scooters to go around town ,in 12 months she put over 17,000 miles on it (on the same batts as well) it was chinese and i cannot say it was a pice of shit.

cjbosk's picture

I drive my boat on weekends, twin 502's, 415 horsepower each, 60 gallon per hour consumption.  I love American made big blocks, brings a smile to my face only matched by the exhaust note!  I cannot be credited for a plummeting fuel usage.

As for the article, credit cards now being used to for utilities, so says Rosenberg....this won't end well.

drink or die's picture

Gotta pay for alcohol and firearms somehow.

Reformed Sheep's picture

It'd be interesting to see some sort of correlation between so-called survivalist items being purchased and the surge in spending (or debt accrual). If this is a last gasp splurge before cards are maxed out, essentials (and the means to protect them) are probably top of the list for a lot of people...

dwdollar's picture

Yes it would. I remember reading somewhere that guns were a popular gift for Christmas.

Osmium's picture

I bought another gun 3 weeks ago.  The gun shop was doing a brisk business that day 

DaveyJones's picture

that's because they remind us of Jesus

Wolf-Avatar's picture

VERY salient point there, Reformed Sheep, I would love to see that correlation.

I wonder just how high the coefficient would be.

It would completely change the look of things wouldn't it?

Pool Shark's picture



Don't you mean:




(who brought the chips?...)

Stoploss's picture

Vindication is sweet.

lolmao500's picture

Other fun facts about credit cards :

#1 Today, 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month.

#4 Right now, there are more than 600 million active credit cards in the United States.

#5 For households that have credit card debt, the average amount of credit card debt is an astounding $15,799.

#6 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#9 There is one credit card company out there, First Premier, that charges interest rates of up to 49.9 percent.  Amazingly, First Premier has 2.6 million customers.

Texas Ginslinger's picture

Deadbeat, here.   Wife and I never carry cc debt.

Several years ago I signed up for a Costco / American Express cc that has no annual fee.  Asked the sales lady how they expected to make $$ on me and she said "They hope you carry a balance and only pay the minimum."       Yea, like that would ever happen...

Who else is a deadbeat - the term credit card companies use for folks who never carry a balance...?????  Have prudly been a deadbeat since the day I got my first cc.

lolmao500's picture

I am. Never had a credit card.

One of my friend made 800$ in the last few years with his.

taniquetil's picture

I'm definitely in the same boat as you. But my dad is definitely the king of deadbeats.


Although I think people like my dad may be skewing those numbers. It's not bad to own multiple credit cards as long as you pay them off. He has one that gives more rewards on gas. He has one that gives extra rewards on groceries. He has one that gives extra airline miles if you use it to buy airplane tickets. And then he has an Excel spreadsheet hanging over the kitchen that tells him what card to use to pay for what and which months certain cards have different rewards.


I lack his dedication.