I recounted this weekend how I've suddenly had in the past 60-90 days more surges in interest rates than the previous 20 years combined. I wondered if this was because I lived in 1 state recession and I was being targeted by zip code but I guessed from some of my reading this was quite widespread as credit card companies quickly move to raise rates ahead of a slew of new rules coming next year. I thought hell was freezing over because for the first time in ages politicians did something that was in the best interest of people rather than their corporate donors but it sure isn't working out that way. [Dec 18, 2008: New Limits on Credit Card Companies; in a Related Note - Hell Freezes Over] Devil in the details, baby.
It looks like my above inclination about this being far more widespread than me was correct - a few items below
First, on Howardlindzon.com - Howard goes off on his treatment by American Express (AXP). Now, Howard admits to being late with some payments and American Express is different than a traditional credit card in that balances are supposed to be paid off in full each month (if my understanding is correct). But even Howard, who is a millionaire, has been attacked by the credit card industry - so what chance do I have ;)
Yesterday I got a few emails from AMEX cutting my card exposures to $7,900 and $2,500. For the last 25 years, I have spent millions of dollars using AMEX.
To be fair, the last year of travel and new businesses and multiple accounts has caused the TARP eaters upstairs some grief. I am never on time and always a week or two late coordinating cash and calling in payments from the road. The people on the phone have always been helpful. BUT, the good people upstiars of TARPexpress/ AmericanFED felt that I am no longer worthy of their trust.
To the new credit lines I first would like to say thank-you American Express. Though I have never been happier to be alive, wealthier, willing to take risk and continue spending, you are looking out for me. You believe I must spend less. I agree. I will spend in fact ZERO with you. I will take my miles before I leave.
Second, I don't recall how I got to this page (I was looking at countless things last night) but I found this Youtube video entitled - Debtors Revolt Begins. It has 180,000 views and just taking a 30 second glance into the comments section shows a cross section of America enjoying the same treatment. There are also a growing number of video responses with similar stories. A fun 4 minute view.
Last, and this is just for humor purposes - our fearless leader Barney Frank finally figured out if you change the rules on the financial oligarchy but give them 9-12 months to work around it, they are going to take evasive actions to the extreme. Duh! Not picking on Barney (he is just representative of a system) but obviously NO one in Congress thought things through - surprising? Nah. Or if you have a darker view - they did think things through and knew this would happen - but being captured by political donations they are cool with it. But they have to raise a fuss for good public relations. Pick your poison.
- Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, wants credit-card curbs in place sooner to crack down on banks that have added fees and raised rates before change takes effect.
- Frank said he backs legislation that would move the effective date of the restrictions to Jan. 1 from February. (that'll teach 'em Barney! That 30 days extra is going to help)
- “Credit card companies are taking advantage of the delay,” Frank said in a telephone interview. “A lot of members are getting complaints from their constituents about fees being raised and other things being done.” (maybe members should think when they pass legislation? Oh wait, that would require actually reading legislation which in this day and age is something in which not enough time is allotted because bills need to be passed with what the lobbyists write in, before anyone can review)
- The law, which is taking effect in stages, limits rate increases, prohibits double-cycle billing and requires banks to mail statements three weeks before the due date instead of two. The law also prohibits universal default, the practice of raising interest rates based on a missed payment with another lender. Banks also must apply payments to higher interest-rate balances first, a rule set to take effect in February.
Now again, no matter what you think of this - you have to ask how a consumer debt based society will function in the new normal without jobs and without easy credit. We just cannot have our hands out waiting for government to fill it for the next 5-10 years, so we can shop. That would be ludicrous.
Wait a second, this is the new America. Ludicrous is the new normal.