The amount of money owed by consumers in the UK broke through the symbolic £1 trillion barrier for the first time in 2004. The Bank of England said that consumers owe more than £1,000bn on cards, mortgages and loans. According to the National Consumer Council, about six million families are already struggling to keep up with credit commitments at a time when borrowing is rising. Students are now building up huge debts as they work their way through University. Debt is everywhere and continues to grow by the day.
But debt is not confined to the UK. Debt in the world is a massive problem. At a G-8 finance ministers’ meeting in February last year, the world’s richest nations agreed in principle to cancel up to 100 per cent of the debts of the poorest countries in Africa.
And yet, again referring to the UK, retailers have not been doing well and many businesses have been in serious trouble, some going into bankruptcy. Therefore, encouraging spending is usually part of the overall marketing drive throughout the year, but is particularly strong in the run up to Christmas, thus increasing even further personal debt. It is a dichotomy. Retailers need sales but customers are up to their neck in debt.
As one expert stated: “The British economic recovery–heralded by Gordon Brown–is hanging by a thread. It rests on the fragile foundations of a consumer boom in Britain, and far more importantly, in the United States. Moreover the US economic bubble is keeping the world afloat at the present time. This is a fact recognised by all the economic pundits.” A very simple piece of Biblical advice is generally ignored by mankind–and to their hurt: “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Some debt may be necessary to buy a house or a car, but debt has become such an integral part of almost everyone’s life today that it has spiralled out of control.
Personal situations, and the economy in general, are hanging by a thread. The global economy is so inter-dependent that it could fall like a house of cards. Massive spending fuels personal debt; not spending means that businesses will go out of business. The economy is so fragile that it could fail at any time. Let us make sure that our own house is in order.