In the News

For Americans buried under a mound of debt, getting a new start will be more difficult under a bankruptcy reform bill that President Bush is expected to sign by next week.
 
Public policy research group Demos says that increased filings are caused not by irresponsible consumerism but by a stagnant economy. Families turn to credit to make ends meet temporarily, said Tamara Draut, director of Demos' economic opportunity program.
"This is just another area in American life where a boom, with all its money to be made, brought out the worst in us," said Callahan. "The carrots for cheating are getting bigger, and even though the sticks are hitting harder, our watchdogs are asleep, so it's easy to get away with things."
 
Demos issued a report warning that conflicts of interest pervade the home loan trade, where inflated property values have delivered handsome benefits to lenders and realty agents, leaving homeowners to discover their dearth of equity.
The average credit card debt among Americans over age 65 nearly doubled between 1992 and 2001, to more than $4,000, according to a 2004 report by Demos, a public policy group in New York.
 
Facing high medical costs and daunting expenses, more retirees are filing for personal bankruptcy.
We are told it's about responsibility. Not theirs, ours. That's why this week the House is likely to approve the bankruptcy reform bill, a sloppy wet kiss to the credit card industry, which has been backing the measure for almost a decade. President Bush has promised a warm embrace when the bill reaches his desk.
Older Americans' Debts Mounting as They Reach Retirement Age
 
The average debt of Americans 65 and older has jumped nearly 90 percent over the past decade to more than $4,000, and those aged 50 to 64 have seen their average debt double to the same amount, according to research by Demos, a New York-based think tank.
While bill sponsor Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) claims that the recent growth of bankruptcies is due to "irresponsible consumerism," Tamara Draut of the economic policy group Demos disagrees.
Recently, Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action, released a study contradicting the assumptions of this bill's proponents. The Demos study showed how the amount of credit card debt per person has risen in the last 10 years. The study also showed how the increase in senior citizens filing for bankruptcy has been the greatest of any age group over the years.
 
Instead, by pressing legislation that is unbalanced and tilted toward specific special interest groups, the proponents of S.
If you haven't seen the Demos web site, this report is a good introduction.
The highly competitive home-mortgage industry may be setting up consumers to fail when the current housing boom ends, economic analysts and public policy advocates warn.
 
Recent reports from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Demos, a New York-based think tank, hold that the price run-up in hot markets can't go on indefinitely. When prices flatten or drop, overextended borrowers will be at heightened risk of losing their homes, they hold.
"Families are borrowing to make ends meet, and they're one missed paycheck away from collapse," said Tamara Draut, director of the economic opportunity program at Demos, a think tank.
 
Millions of Americans could be plunged into financial ruin if a bill giving credit card companies long-sought relief from unpaid loans gets final Congressional approval, a broad array of consumer protection, economic justice, and civil rights groups warned.