In the News

"This is the first generation who won't necessarily do better than their parents," says Tamara Draut, director of the economic opportunity program at Demos, a research and advocacy organization in New York. "They've been told: 'Apply yourself. You'll get a job, a home.' For many young people that's not the case."
 
"It's so much more difficult to achieve the adult milestones today than it was 30 years ago," says Draut of the think tank Demos.
Crawford provided an article written by Nomi Prins, author of "Other People's Money: The Corporate Mugging of America," in criticism of the bill. According to Prins, it was introduced to fulfill President George W. Bush's request for a $50 billion budget cut.
Given the inertia of the state political machine, any major administrative change will likely take years, said Steve Carbo, director of the Democracy Project at Demos, a nonpartisan think tank that will host a Nov. 10 roundtable discussion on city elections.
 
With less than 24 hours to go before the big day, campaign season is finally winding to a close. City Limits gathers some last-minute intelligence.
Professor Robert Frank of Cornell University, the author of Luxury Fever, compares conspicuous consumption in an economy like ours to the military arms race, and we already know that's destined to end in mutually assured destruction.
 
The key to countering this headlong rush towards ever-more expensive disappointment is to switch from conspicuous to inconspicuous consumption.
"Appraisal fraud is part of a bigger, more ominous picture," says David Callahan, Home Insecurity author and Director of Research at Demos. "As home prices have continued to increase above inflation, even nearing 20 percent per year in some cities, American homeowners are vulnerable as never before to financial ruin if home prices fall to their natural market value."
 
"To make matters worse, an increasing number of Americans have reduced the equity in their home to meet rising living expenses, like education and health care, or to pay off credit card debts.
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In his book "Luxury Fever," Cornell University economist Robert Frank noted that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen built a 74,000-square-foot house. According to Frank, that roughly equaled the size of Cornell's entire business school, with a staff of 100.
 
The impulse to announce more success by having more home seems to span all classes.
Hefty heating bills will take the biggest bite out of the finances of households that are already struggling.
According to Tamara Draut, Director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos, "American families are facing financial hardship not experienced for generations, and we commissioned this survey to tell us precisely why they are turning to credit cards so often."
 
A new report called The Plastic Safety Net offers findings from a national survey of households with credit card debt.
"The Plastic Safety Net" study found that middle- and low-income households were racking up credit card balances just to cover everyday expenses. One-third of the 1,000 survey respondents said that basic living expenses contributed to their current debt level.
Last week, New York-based consumer action group Demos and the Center for Responsible Lending released findings from a new report, "The Plastic Safety Net: The Reality of Household Debt in America." The survey results found that 7 out of 10 low- and middle-income families are using their credit cards as a safety net, relying on credit to pay for car repairs, basic living expenses, medical expenses or house repairs.
 
Households that reported a recent job loss or unemployment, and those without health insurance, were almost twice as likely to use credit cards fo