Let’s review some recent financial history:
The mid 1990’s. The Cold War is over, China is opening up, and the global superhighway is under construction— there’s no end in sight for America’s economic growth. The Dow soars through the roof, and credit flows like water. Most folks aren’t too concerned about credit card bills, because salary increases and investment returns keep up with the pace of their spending.
2001. The Dot-Com bubble bursts, and the Twin Towers go down. Investors gravitate from technology to real-estate speculation. Consumers accustomed to prosperous lifestyles start collecting debt on their cards.
2005. A housing boom sweeps America— McMansions grow like fungi in the deserts of Nevada and swamps of Florida. The US spends more than it saves. China grows healthy.
2007-2009. The housing bubble bursts, creating a wave of foreclosures. They in turn trigger the subprime mortgage crisis, the result of hyper-speculation. Investment banks absorbing those losses fail, sending the US into the Great Recession.
Through all of this, consumers were pretending that it still was 1997, thanks to easy mortgages and easy approval credit cards. Even as the economy barely grew, consumption could still increase and create the illusion of increasing wealth.
But all debt must be repaid eventually, and by 2009 the card issuers could not longer absorb the constant drain of their resources. Thus, we have the Credit Card Bubble.
Symptoms. Creditors, struggling to turn a profit, are cutting lines of credit and taking to predatory practices of manipulating rates and fees. These are often imposed on consumers irrespective of their credit history.
Many households that appear prosperous are in the red, and are struggling to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy. Poverty is not to blame— living beyond one’s means is.
Prevention. While it affects every person who borrows money, the Credit Card Bubble has been more severe for some: those who make minimum payments on bills, carry multiple cards, or max out their line of credit are far more at risk at seeing their lifestyle vanish in the Bubble.
The lesson of the Bubble? Unpaid debt accumulates. Unfortunately, that’s something many consumers are just now coming to terms with.
Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.
Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.
I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.
Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.
Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.