Saturday, May 19, 2007

Average In Michigan

Look at the nice house. See the nice couple. Everything looks very normal. But normal isn't what it used to be.

The New York Times had a good piece on what it means to be normal in America these days, as opposed to being, say, married to one of the founders of LBO pioneers (sorry, we're supposed to say "private equity" firm) KKR and serving as the president of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

Average means
  • earning $66,000 a year with two incomes.
  • spending 1/7th of your income on interest on your consumer debt (up from 1/9th in 1980).
  • owing collectively $880 billion to credit card companies, up from $8 billion in 1968 (in today's dollars).
  • owing collectively $17.1 billion in 2006 — up from $12.8 billion in 2003,
  • saving less than zero since 2005.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Henry Kravis's firm spent $29 billion last month buying First Data, one of the country's largest credit-card processing companies. They offered 26.4% more than the market value of the firm. But what the hell - debt in Michigan is only going to grow. Kravis is worth at least $1.4 billion personally, and that's going to grow as well.

From the Democratic Party's left: Robert Reich on sharply increasing the income tax on incomes above a million a year; John R. MacArthur saying "tariff" isn't a dirty word.

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