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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Greenspan Shifts View on Deficits Via NYTimes

Mr. Greenspan's thesis, which is not accepted by all traditional economists, is that increases in personal wealth and the growing sophistication of financial markets have allowed Americans — individually and as a nation — to borrow much more today than might have seemed manageable 20 years agoAdjusted for inflation, the average family's debt, including a mortgage, has climbed from $54,000 in 1990 to $79,000 last year. Mortgage foreclosures, credit card delinquencies and personal bankruptcies are all at near record levels.According to the Federal Reserve's most recent data, household wealth bounced back after the economic slowdown and hit a record at the end of 2003.But the main reason for that new wealth has been rising prices for real estate and stock, and those prices have climbed in large measure because interest rates are at their lowest level in more than 40 years.

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