Go back nine years and people were wondering whether cash would be re-enthroned as the payment method of choice, and whether Americans would become skittish about debt.
SALT LAKE CITY —
The first thing I noticed about China, where I spent the last two weeks on vacation, is that the economy is almost exclusively cash-based.
Whip out a credit card at a fast-food restaurant and watch the puzzled looks on the faces of cashiers. It will almost match the puzzled look on yours when you realize “combo meal” means you get shrimp and egg custard with your order. A popular credit card slogan asks what’s in your wallet, but you had better have cold-hard yuan in yours if you want to eat in Beijing.
Not so, of course, in America, where the notion might seem like a quaint trip to a bygone era — not so long ago, actually — when, if you were devoid of greenbacks, you weren’t going anywhere for lunch.
The assortment of plastic in our wallets may give the illusion that the lunch is free.
With this in mind, it was interesting to return home this week to a couple of reports from the website WalletHub.com. One shows that Americans are on pace to soon reach the $1 trillion level in total credit card debt, and that our plastic debt averages to $8,038 per household.
The other shows Utah is the second most “independent” state in the nation, measuring a variety of factors from government dependence to personal finances and vice. That’s good news, of course, until you parse it a little. Utahns ranked No. 1 in terms of the highest median household income, adjusted for the cost of…