For many American households, the recession was a time to pay off debt and get their finances in order—whether they wanted to or not. But according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds, Americans are taking on debt once again. The difference is that this time we’re borrowing to finance new cars, college tuition, and other consumer goods.
The average US household spent more than $2,600 on gas last year for a third consecutive year — an all-time high and a 111% increase compared with the amount spend a decade earlier, an advocacy group says. High fuel prices hit poor families harder, with the lowest spending nearly 13% of their income on gas compared with 2.5% for the highest, the report states.
Consumers are now paying record high ATM fees, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com. The average cost for using another bank’s ATM nationwide is $4.35 per transaction. Overdraft fees and some account maintenance fees were also found to be at record highs.
The plummeting Venezuelan currency breached a new, symbolic low of 100 bolívares per dollar on the black market, according to market-tracking websites, in a sign of the worsening greenback shortage faced by President Nicolás Maduro's government. "The bolívar is strong when the people have confidence in it but people clearly haven't had confidence in it for decades; and even less now," said Henkel Garcia, director of the Caracas-based business consultancy Econometrica.
Given all of the nasty headlines coming out of Russia (The Economist’s latest was a straightforward “Russia’s economy: on the edge of recession“) and the very real deterioration in a broad range of economic and financial indicators one would be forgiven for thinking that Russians were souring on their country’s recent experimentation in conducting an aggressive and openly anti-Western foreign policy. But that's not the case and Putin's approval rating remains near a record high at 86%.