Why Debt-To-Income Ratios Are Worse Than They Appear

I recently published an article discussing why “recessions” are a good thing by reverting debt buildups excesses during expansions. The argument against debt reversions is always the same in that “debt-to-income” ratios low. To wit:

“One reason (of many) we don’t need a debt reversion is that household debt service costs (interest etc.) as a % of household incomes are currently at a 40 year low.” – S. Porter

If you look at a chart, it certainly would seem that would be the case.

Debt-To-Income, Why Debt-To-Income Ratios Are Worse Than They Appear

But, like most data from the Federal Reserve, you have to dig behind the numbers to reveal the real story.

So let’s do that, shall we?

Living The Dream

Every year, most Americans go further into debt just to “sustain” their standard of living. To wit:

“In 1998, monetary velocity peaked and began to turn lower. Such coincides with the point that consumers were forced into debt to sustain their standard of living. For decades, WallStreet, advertisers, and corporate powerhouses flooded consumers with advertising to induce them into buying bigger houses, televisions, and cars. The age of ‘consumerism’ took hold.“

Debt-To-Income, Why Debt-To-Income Ratios Are Worse Than They Appear

The idea of “maintaining a certain standard of living” has become a foundation in society currently. The average American believes they are “entitled” to a specific type of house, car, and general lifestyle. Such includes living necessities such as food, running water, electricity, and the latest mobile phone, computer, and high-speed internet connection. (Really, what would be the point of living if you didn’t have access to Facebook every two minutes?)

However, maintaining this “entitled” lifestyle requires money, and as shown above, when income and savings run short, debt fills the gap.