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Old 07-22-2008, 08:43 AM   #21
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Early retirement is hard to achieve. I just hope, here, we don't judge or look down on people who are in difficult circumstances. I didn't envision that kinda attitude when I joined this board shortly sometime ago. Little more respect on other people's circumstances should be expected
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:44 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by barbarus View Post
Her continually irresponsible behavior , encouraged by greedy American business, has caused an economic dislocation we're all going to be paying for years to come.
Well said above. I don't know who is more stupid- the lady or people who lent her money.

Spent time this week with very educated/observant guy who lives Belgium. He could not believe his readings about the level and attitude of debt in USA. What something "costs" is not its price - rather the "monthly payment".

He said in Belgium (and most of Europe) - generally nobody has CC debt, no car debt, etc. Even for houses, people generally put 40-50% down and have a sensible mortgage (not sure if true - but this was a "fact based" guy...)
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:45 AM   #23
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Yet Cattusbabe is correct, these type of people don't really have the mind set to be able to figure all these things out. It may even be largely genetic. So I think there should be better prior regulation, so that one doesn't have to be financially sophisticated or consumer savvy to get along well enough in the world.
Ha
While there is no way to prevent stupid people from screwing themselves or sleazeballs from robbing people, I think we are now on the track for much tighter regulation all around. Whether this is a good idea or not depends on your perspective. I am of mixed feelings, and fully expect that the regulatory zeal will go too far. But I see all the signs it is happening: mortgage broker licensing, investment banks getting regulated like commercial banks, mortgage finance possibly shifting from securitization (outside the purview of bank regulators) to covered bonds (well within regulatory control), likely restrictions on home equity and credit card lending, etc.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:52 AM   #24
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couple of good responses here:

Morgenson:
Calculated Risk: Duelling Discourses of Debt

Brooks:
Calculated Risk: Brooks on Morgenson on McLeod

People are name-calling; the very thread title calls this woman stupid. I missed the part where she was asking the government to bail her out.. Bailouts are reserved for hedge funds and international bankers, after all!

She is running a gantlet.. what more do you want at this point besides your own personal flail with her blood on it?

Missing in all this piling on is the acknowledgement that average people like this, with their job losses, their illnesses, their becoming widowed and divorced, are GOLD MINES for financial companies. So does shop-a-holism drive the economy.

So, I think I would rather not add INSULT to injury in cases like this since people like this woman are the ones who have been making it possible for banks and retailers to post profits.. which I assume you all have enjoyed. Far from "dragging" anyone "into the pit".. what wealth they did have got transferred quite effectively UP. They are only seen as a burden now that they can't sustain the wealth transfer up the chain any longer.

There is no US economy anymore without extraordinary levels of debt. If you can maintain that without debtors, go ahead and try.


-----------
Here's an even more dramatic case:

Credit Slips: Why Is This Legal?

Quote:
I had lunch with a bankruptcy lawyer, who followed up with an email story:

Quote:
Today I was interviewing one of my clients and she said that one of the loans she that she had should have been illegal. I asked her what she meant and she said that the loan she received should never have been permissible. Turns out she had a car loan with Volkswagen with an interest rate of about 3% and a loan balance of approximately $23,000.00 Because she had her home mortgage with Wells Fargo (or at least that is what she thinks is the reason) she received an offer from Wells Fargo for an equity loan on her car! (i.e. just like a home equity loan except the collateral is a car instead of a house) I had never heard of such a thing before. In any event, she agreed to do the deal with Wells Fargo (she needed to money to pay her bills and was much too embarrassed to go to family and friends) so she agreed to the refi and at closing she received $4850 in cash, Wells Fargo received $1300 in fees and the total amount of the debt went from $23,649 (the amount owed VW on the original car financing) to, hold on to your seats, $48,852! The interest rate on the new loan was a mere 16.24% (remember the old rate with VW was approximately 3%). Of course she defaulted and Wells Fargo repossessed the car and is now seeking its deficiency balance. Amazing to see an equity loan on a rapidly depreciating asset but when she received the loan Wells Fargo told her that she had paid down her car loan so quickly she had accumulated equity and they had a way to get the equity now.

The Wells Fargo loan was made in 2006 the cost of the new financing was $17,900 almost as much as the balance (i.e. $23,649) then due on the original note with VW. Also, the term of the new loan with Wells Fargo 72 months, on a 2005 VW Passat!
The woman in the story got an immediate benefit ($4850 in cash), and that saved her some serious embarrassment. But these charges are head-snapping.

What is the best way to think about this? Is it enough to say that the woman is an adult, she received a benefit, she is stuck with the deal? Or is it enough to say that the company's terms are unconscionable, disclosure was inadequate, and charges at these rates should be banned?
Of course, the system is set up to profit off of the less-intelligent and less-savvy. Half the people have an IQ of under 100. To get angry with them for merely fulfilling their role is like being angry with a tree for allowing itself to be cut down, or calling a fish "stupid" for having been caught in a net.

Since the game is "finance" I won't fall into most of the traps these people have... but I'm not going to congratulate myself or feel smug about it. If the game were football I would get creamed.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:55 AM   #25
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Amen.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:07 AM   #26
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My sis is like this except she doesn't smoke. She and her WDH had all the toys, huge flat screen TV, etc. Declared bankruptcy when she found she couldn't pay for it. In the meantime she came down with breast cancer. Now, I had a chat with my dad, and gave him some money to pass along to her (saying it was anonymous). When he found out all the luxuries she was enjoying, and bragging aabout how she no longer had to pay for it because of bankruptcy, he just about blew his fuse. He told her he had a donation for her, but that he was not going to give it to her. She had to write and specifically state what it would be used for (like a cancer treatment) before he would forward a check.

Now, I don't think there is a need to kick people when they are down, and I don't really see that going on here. But, we (the people of this board) have worked and saved hard. Some of us had to dig ourselves out of a hole, some have made better choices along the way and thereby missed out on that experience. So, as I said, no kickin 'em when they are down, but let them be down a bit and figure out what they need to do to dig out. Sometimes it does mean bankruptcy, and thereby losing ability to use credit for 7 years. That is not a bad thing, it is a good thing. It is not kicking them when they are down. In my sister's example, I can say that I love her, but for me to extend a $30k loan (or more) so she didn't have to declare bankruptcy is not showing any love. (give a man a fish and he eats for a day...teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime, if he is not too lazy to fish). Sis is now doing better, and has a much better understanding of her responsibilities. I will not let her or her kids starve, but I know that if I just send money when she says she needs it, she'll have another toy, a Wii, a PS3, a new TV, whatever, and then she'll be back for more. She needs to learn that shelter and healthy food are the priorities and that the toys come later when she has saved for them.

Why should my dad, at 72, go back to work so she can eat all the fast food she wants, when he takes a PBJ for lunch (when he was working or volunteering)? Why should I tack on a few more years of work so I can support her bad habits (including health and spending), not be able to FIRE myself, or lose my own health in the process?

Teach responsibility to the kids while they are young...if it doesn't take, teach them with tough love later on, I say!
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:32 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
So I think there should be better prior regulation, so that one doesn't have to be financially sophisticated or consumer savvy to get along well enough in the world.
With respect, I must disagree here. I believe that is exactly the cause of the problem in the first place. The mind is just like a muscle in the body. It must be exercised to become stronger. To make things so easy that you do not have to think for yourself anymore, is in fact causing people to become less, and not more financially savy. Sort of like people that have only used a calculator, and never learned to use a pencil and paper. When people offload their responsibility of thinking to someone else, they invite all sorts of bad things to happen to them. After all, we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. I will agree that some will be better at it than others, but all need to strech themselves to the best that they can.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:36 AM   #28
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Was it SNL or Mad TV that had the skit with the young couple saying "wait, you're saying we need to spend less than we make?" I must have that video.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:54 AM   #29
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Credit card companies and banks make money on loans via fees and packaging their debt up and selling it. Makes little incentive for them to loan only to people who can pay back. It becomes someone else's problem at that point.

There are issues on both sides, personal responisbility and need for better regulation.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:03 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina View Post
couple of good responses here:

Morgenson:
Calculated Risk: Duelling Discourses of Debt

Brooks:
Calculated Risk: Brooks on Morgenson on McLeod

People are name-calling; the very thread title calls this woman stupid. I missed the part where she was asking the government to bail her out.. Bailouts are reserved for hedge funds and international bankers, after all!

She is running a gantlet.. what more do you want at this point besides your own personal flail with her blood on it?

Missing in all this piling on is the acknowledgement that average people like this, with their job losses, their illnesses, their becoming widowed and divorced, are GOLD MINES for financial companies. So does shop-a-holism drive the economy.

So, I think I would rather not add INSULT to injury in cases like this since people like this woman are the ones who have been making it possible for banks and retailers to post profits.. which I assume you all have enjoyed. Far from "dragging" anyone "into the pit".. what wealth they did have got transferred quite effectively UP. They are only seen as a burden now that they can't sustain the wealth transfer up the chain any longer.

There is no US economy anymore without extraordinary levels of debt. If you can maintain that without debtors, go ahead and try.


-----------
Here's an even more dramatic case:

Credit Slips: Why Is This Legal?



Of course, the system is set up to profit off of the less-intelligent and less-savvy. Half the people have an IQ of under 100. To get angry with them for merely fulfilling their role is like being angry with a tree for allowing itself to be cut down, or calling a fish "stupid" for having been caught in a net.

Since the game is "finance" I won't fall into most of the traps these people have... but I'm not going to congratulate myself or feel smug about it. If the game were football I would get creamed.

Nicely put Ladelfina. You're accurate in saying that some folks do feel smug about themselves when they see others less able to deal with our financial climate of easy credit. I don't know why. It's like someone blessed with the ability to run a four minute mile feeling smug when they see someone in a wheelchair struggle to get through a door..........
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:04 AM   #31
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Just for you, Marquette:
"Don't Buy Stuff You Can't Afford"
http://consumerist.com/consumer/clip...ord-252491.php


What people see more of is:



Rambler, I appreciate your sharing your family story.. sounds like you are doing what is right, but I have to ask how your hard-working PBJ dad managed (or didn't manage) to transmit those values in the first place.. or did in your case but not in your sister's.

armor99, no amount of exercise will get me into an NFL lineup. Society as a whole doesn't benefit from a strictly punitive or Darwinian approach in these matters.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:18 AM   #32
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Credit card companies and banks make money on loans via fees and packaging their debt up and selling it. Makes little incentive for them to loan only to people who can pay back. It becomes someone else's problem at that point.
Some lenders operated this way (they are dead now), but most "own" the credit risk in some way, shape or fashion. So lenders do very much want to be paid back by their borrowers. Having said that, the most profitable credit card customer is a member of the "walking wounded." Never quite defaults, but pays a high interest rate, racks up fees, etc. Problem with these folks is that they tend not to be very resilient in economic downturns.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:18 AM   #33
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I talked to 4 mortgage companies lately. I wanted to put 175K down on a 200K piece of property and carry a mortgage of 25K. I have excellent credit and this would be my only debt.

Each asked what I live on, and I replied that I live on my investments. Each wanted to know if I had a scheduled payout from these investments, and none really was interested in the amount of the investments.

When I asked why, each said that since I had no job income, they needed some way to determine my income level. I said I just pay myself whatever I need out of my investments, and noted that even if I had a job, I could quit the day after getting the loan.

Three of the outfits turned me down. US Bank wanted a $100 fee that they would gladly charge to a credit card before giving me a reply. I refused to give them the $100.

Here is the sad part. I sit here with CC's in my pocket that I could get that amount on through cash advances. My response to the whole situation was, "Well, I guess I do not need to buy that property." Many of my fellow Americans would have went for the CC's and never realized the stupidity of that move until it was too late.

A year or two ago, I would probably had little difficulty getting the mortgage, so I figure that mortgage money availability has tightened up a bit. I do not know whether I could still get a credit card as the ones in my pocket are quite a few years old.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:26 AM   #34
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People are name-calling; the very thread title calls this woman stupid. I missed the part where she was asking the government to bail her out.. Bailouts are reserved for hedge funds and international bankers, after all!
I stand corrected, I looked at the posts but not the thread title. But that's not "people", that's one person.

And it's true that she didn't ask for a bailout, but that was in response to cattusbabe's assertion that the government and lenders should not leaving her out to dry. And it really is a bailout. Her house is in foreclosure, which almost always means the lender is going to swallow part of the loan, and that cost gets passed down to others one way or another. And if the lender fails, the government will almost certainly take over via FDIC or FSLIC or some other program. So she's not getting the loan forgiven while keeping the house, but she's also not going to debtor's prison.

A good point has been raised that a lot of this problem seem to be with lenders selling loans. Used to be a bank or S&L had to live with a bad loan that they made. Now that incentive is gone since you have a broker making the loan and selling it. I don't quite understand how and where the loan approval is being done but it seems too far removed from the institution that winds up owning the mortgage. (I see that brewer is saying this isn't really true, and I'll admit I'm basing this on general observance and don't really know for sure.)

Hidden fees and deceptive rates are a problem too, and I guess we need more regulation, though I think a lot of that is already there and people just don't read the contract.

What do I want? I want people to stop trying to keep up with the Jones' if they can't afford it. Our economy did just fine for many years with most people buying what they could afford and not going into heavy debt. I don't agree that our economy is reliant on people being in deep debt. In fact I think it's just been a house of cards, and a slower but safer economy is better for the long run. Maybe I'm wrong, but maybe you are.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:27 AM   #35
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Early retirement is hard to achieve. I just hope, here, we don't judge or look down on people who are in difficult circumstances. I didn't envision that kinda attitude when I joined this board shortly sometime ago. Little more respect on other people's circumstances should be expected

"For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good....."

anonymous- attributed to "Jesus" - From the Gospel According to Mark 14:7 (Bible King James Version)

(But it seems to be plenty PC to beat up on people addicted to nicotine. The new lepers)
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:31 AM   #36
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Regarding the article, it mentioned that she had been working two jobs to maintain her lifestyle. Well apparently not. In any case, I do not feel that it is worth kicking somebody when they are down, but I do not see the same "predatory zeal" or whatever it is called on the backs of the CC companies that many others hear don. CC companies can mail you, e-mail you, market to you, do whatever it is, but the ultimate responsibility boils down to the person who needs to sign on the dotted line. I am not saying I feel no sympathy, her husband died when she was 27, she was supporting a child and had medical emergencies. It is not to say it isn't at all understandable, but it does not negate the fact that she was living with substantial debt. Debt, in itself, is risky. Add to that the risk of RELYING on two jobs just to maintain your lifestyle, it makes the spending/debt cycle seem that much more difficult.

Predatory lending? Is there any other kind based off the definition that many people her give? CC companies CHARGE interest for the risk involved in lending money! If an individual needs money to support a lifestyle and the CC company/underwriters determines they have X amount of risk, they can charge Y amount of interest. The fact that people get into this place in the first point isn't a product of lack of intelligence, it is a lack of basic foresight in that making less than you spend is unsustainable. If an inflated IQ is required to grasp that, I feel I have lost faith in humanity.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:39 AM   #37
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I'm not judging the woman in the story or feeling smug about my own situation (that is why I said stories like hers give me a stomach ache--I mean the visceral gutwrenching kind that you get when you worry about a situation). There but for the grace of God go a lot of people.

But I have noticed that the media is finding a lot of people who are in their situations as a result of their own actions. It gets to be like the Jerry Springer show (and who here is feeling sorry for the people who go on that show?)--we might know someone who married their cousin's albino lovechild, but we probably don't see them going on tv. I wonder if some of the subjects in these articles are compensated for their stories.

And I'm sorry but I think she could at least not smoke for the camera--the newspaper absolutely used that photo to make a subtle comment ("look! She's broke but she can still buy cigarettes!"). Smoke, don't smoke, I personally don't care--but cigarettes aren't cheap.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:45 AM   #38
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Businesses operate largely in the space of getting people to give them money for products and services that the majority of the time the buyers dont actually need. Blaming them for doing their jobs is like blaming a shark for taking a bite. Of course, if they dont perform due diligence and disclose properly, or put someone into a situation where clearly they're going to fail, then thats unconscionable.

While some people have an addiction level problem with spending, and others are simply too dumb to understand what they're doing, I have to believe that theres a huge, huge range of people between those two demographic groups at one end of the spectrum and the slice of people at the other end who "know better".

Someone in that range that sees their debt mounting continuously over a period of years and fails to make a change isnt particularly deserving of sympathy when the house of cards collapses.

Aside from two illnesses (and I have to wonder if being an overweight smoker had much to do with those) she made a series of progressively worse financial decisions that didnt require a 150 IQ to decipher. You're losing ground while working two jobs, decide to exit a marriage, refinance with >10k worth of costs and then take money from your retirement accounts to cover that, lay in bed racking up 5 figures in spending from a shopping channel, then try to implicate your teenage son in the next wave of bail outs?

I'm not sure that a flail is entirely out of order...
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:50 AM   #39
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While we are a consumerist culture, and debt is used to finance our economy, it is not a game that can continue indefinitely. Banks are wise to tighten credit, which is the prudent move when your borrowers can no longer afford to repay. Unfortunately, such a move is in many cases like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. It may prevent future mistakes, but it won't solve the immediate problem.

The current credit crunch is a prime opportunity for financial education on an individual level. Banks that have loans outstanding to borrowers who cannot currently repay them would be wise to spend a few more dollars to have credit counselors visit the borrowers. This is what many credit card companies do to avoid their unsecured debt from being discharged in bankruptcy. The credit counseling service should be provided free of charge, and not be an excuse to tack on more fees.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:52 AM   #40
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Regarding the article, it mentioned that she had been working two jobs to maintain her lifestyle. Well apparently not.
Well, actually, it probably was supporting her lifestyle... just barely. She was able to pay the minimums on everything, continue to buy, etc. Then, she had a medical setback. Depending on the margin of safety, that setback might have been nothing more than missing a month of work by twisting an ankle. Then she missed a few payments and her interest rate shoots up to reflect the fact that she's a credit risk.

And that's probably best case. Things could have been worse from the start... the medical setback could be more severe.

Scott Adams has a theory, obese people are obese because they like to eat more. I think he's wrong, some people use food as a coping mechanism for many issues, but that still sort of falls under the 'they're obese because they like to eat more'.

I have a similar issue. I have a sweet tooth. I know this about myself. So, I actually don't carry cash (vending machines take dollars!) and I don't keep candy in the house. As a result, I don't look like someone who loves candy (ok, maybe a little bit). But, it didn't take a degree in nutrition and an advanced understanding of physiology and psychology to know that I desire sugar and giving in to that desire isn't in my best long-term interest (even if chocolate does taste good now). If I placed myself in the middle of a large room of free candy, I'd be tempted for sure.

Still, I don't think I'd be going to CNN to complain about predatory candy manufacturers.

I don't watch TV, but if it's anything like what I hear on the radio, I would think the offers for easy money and living beyond ones means are pretty darn tempting if you don't have any monetary self-control.
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