“Personal debt levels reach a record 140% of income,” says the Daily Telegraph. In 1980, the paper explained, the level was only half as high. The Telegraph might have been speaking of almost any country in the English-speaking world. The leading financial regulator in the United Kingdom, the FSA, warned yesterday that debt levels were becoming dangerously high. Mortgage repossessions rose 65% last year. “There is a risk that consumers could be unprepared for a weaker economic environment…,” said the FSA.
What has happened in the Anglo-Saxon economies? Several things: First, the financial industry in these countries has been extraordinarily innovative and aggressive – always finding new ways to lure people into debt. Second, these economies are more closely allied with the United States and the U.S dollar. The steady loss of purchasing power in the dollar, and the threat of consumer price inflation, has led people to spend rather than save. Finally, the Anglo-Saxon culture, along with the English language, has become the imperial standard. But it is a late-stage imperial culture, dominated by a ‘get it now‘ emphasis on money, status and material well-being.