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Credit-card industry may cut $2 trillion lines: analyst
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Reuters News

Reuters News, December 1, 2008
Posted: December 5th, 2008

The U.S. credit-card industry may pull back well over $2 trillion of lines over the next 18 months due to risk aversion and regulatory changes, leading to sharp declines in consumer spending, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said. The credit card is the second key source of consumer liquidity, the first being jobs, the Oppenheimer & Co analyst noted. "In other words, we expect available consumer liquidity in the form of credit-card lines to decline by 45 percent." Closing millions of accounts, cutting credit lines and raising interest rates are just some of the moves credit card issuers are using to try to inoculate themselves from a tsunami of expected consumer defaults. A consolidated U.S. lending market that is pulling back on credit is also posing a risk to the overall consumer liquidity, Whitney said. Mortgages and credit cards are now dominated by five players who are all pulling back liquidity, making reductions in consumer liquidity seem unavoidable, she said. "We are now beginning to see evidence of broad-based declines in overall consumer liquidity. Already, we have witnessed the entire mortgage market hit a wall, and we believe it will, for the first time ever, show actual shrinkage over the next few months," she wrote. "In a country that offers hundreds of cereal and soda pop choices, the banking industry has become one that offers very few choices", Whitney wrote in a note dated November 30. "Pulling credit when job losses are increasing by over 50 percent year-over-year in most key states is a dangerous and unprecedented combination, in our view," the analyst said.

Note: This article, in pointing out that the banking industry offers few choices for consumers, fails to mention that the industry is rapidly becoming extremely concentrated, with major bank failures and takeovers accelerating due to the financial crisis on Wall Street. And the bailout from the Fed and Treasury has encouraged this concentration through huge tax breaks and risk protections. For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.

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