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Consumer Debt

About Consumer Debt

The inability to meet basic needs with income from labor, transfers, and other sources makes it difficult to maintain emergency savings and appears to push many households into debt. Moreover, these same households often rely on more expensive and higher-risk forms of debt, such as payday loans, subprime auto loans, and private student loans.

About Consumer Debt

● Summary

Consumer debt is ubiquitous. Although at any given time some Americans are debt-free, most of us carry debt some or even all of the time. We borrow for various reasons, and we are increasingly likely to incur debt also from non-loan sources (such as an out-of-pocket medical expense or being assessed a governmental fine or fee. Consumer debt is not inherently bad (taking on debt can often be a sound financial decision), but it is a concern today because it has reached record levels, and its effects reach deeply into financial security, physical and mental health, as well as the broader economy. Consumer debt is a systemic problem with significant consequences, but there are systemic solutions. With solutions ranging from product-level improvements to broader reforms, EPIC has identified options for stakeholders in every sector and for partnerships across sectors. Collectively, these solutions possess tremendous potential to address a critical dimension of household financial insecurity.

This inability to meet basic needs with income from labor, transfers, and other sources makes it difficult to maintain emergency savings and appears to push many households into debt. Moreover, these same households often rely on more expensive and higher-risk forms of debt, such as payday loans, subprime auto loans, and private student loans.

Our work on consumer debt includes a focus on the drivers, features, and consequences of household debt among these financially vulnerable households.

● Solutions Framework

● Presentation

Publications
BLOGS AND VIDEO
Events
Consumer Debt Convening Video Series
ADVISORY BOARD

FULL PROFILE

Marla is CEO and Founder of FS Card Inc., and she is also a Partner at Fenway Summer LLC. Prior to FS Card Marla served as Assistant Director of Card and Payment Markets at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Marla previously spent seven years in a variety of functions at Capital One. Marla graduated from Stanford University Graduate School of Business with an MBA, and also earned a BS degree in Economics from University of Pennsylvania, Wharton.

FULL PROFILE

Ray Boshara is senior adviser and director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The center conducts research on family balance sheets and how they matter for strengthening families and the economy. Boshara is also a senior fellow in the Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute, where his work focuses on the future of building wealth. Before joining the Fed in 2011, Boshara was vice president of New America, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where he launched and directed several domestic and international policy programs. He has also worked at CFED, a UN agency in Rome, the U.S. Congress, and Ernst & Young. Over the past 25 years, he has advised presidential candidates as well as the George W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.

FULL PROFILE

Anmol is a social scientist specializing in economic, racial, and urban inequality. He conducts research and policy development on the financial conditions of low-income communities. Anmol earned a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University and holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

FULL PROFILE

Lisa Donner is the Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), a coalition that brings together more than 200 national, state, and local groups to work together to reform the financial industry..

FULL PROFILE

William R. Emmons is the lead economist with the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, where he also serves as assistant vice president. His areas of focus at the Center include household balance sheets and their relationship to the broader economy. He also speaks and writes frequently on banking, financial markets, financial regulation, housing, the economy and other topics.

FULL PROFILE

Tom Feltner is Center for Responsible Lending’s director of research, based in the Durham, North Carolina office. Feltner leads the organization’s applied research program and connects research findings with CRL’s state and federal policy agenda. He is currently conducting research on payday lending, student lending, and debt buyer practices. Before joining CRL in January 2017, Feltner was director of financial services at Consumer Federation of America, a Washington, DC based research and policy organization. At CFA, Feltner conducted research on payday lending, military financial protections and auto insurance pricing practices in low-wealth communities and communities of color. Previously, Feltner was Vice President of Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based financial services reform organization where he led consumer credit research, advocacy and program evaluation.

FULL PROFILE

Megan Kiesel is the co-owner of Livelihood, a Philadelphia-based firm dedicated to helping consumers achieve financial peace of mind. Prior to starting Livelihood, Ms. Kiesel served nonprofits as an expert in consumer financial decision-making and behavior.

FULL PROFILE

Signe-Mary McKernan is a senior fellow and codirector of the Opportunity and Ownership initiative at the Urban Institute. She is a wealth-building and poverty expert with two decades of experience researching access to assets and credit and the impact of safety net programs. She coedited Asset Building and Low-Income Families, coauthored a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty, and advised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in setting up its research unit.

FULL PROFILE

Soneyet Muhammad serves as Director of Community Engagement at Clarifi, where she leads agency programs and strategic partnerships to address consumers’ holistic financial lives. In her role, she uses behaviorally-informed service delivery practices and adapts operations to reach consumers through new partnership channels.

FULL PROFILE

Prior to founding LendStreet, Jerry worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its Global Corporate & Investing Banking division, helping major companies restructure their debt during the financial crisis and raise money from the high yield debt market. Jerry is now putting that expertise to use in a way that helps consumers in financial distress deal with their debt and rebuild their credit.

FULL PROFILE

Tim Ogden is the managing director of the Financial Access Initiative, a research center based at NYU-Wagner that focuses on how financial services can better meet the needs and improve the lives of poor households around the world, and of the US Financial Diaries project. Tim is also a co-founder of Sona Partners, a thought leadership communications firm, where he has helped develop more than 20 books on topics including leadership, strategy, marketing, and financial inclusion

FULL PROFILE

Sasha Orloff is the CEO and Co-founder of LendUp. LendUp builds technology to provide credit to those that banks and credit union decline. Their first product is a socially responsible alternative to payday loans called The LendUp Ladder. Orloff focused on expanding financial services to new segments or markets, and finding ways to harness new technology to improve lives.

FULL PROFILE

Caroline Ratcliffe is a senior fellow and codirector of the Opportunity and Ownership initiative at the Urban Institute. An expert on asset building and poverty, she has published and spoken extensively on poverty, emergency savings, alternative financial-sector products, and welfare programs and policies. Ratcliffe has evaluated programs aimed at moving low-income families into the financial mainstream and studied how welfare programs and policies affect families' economic well-being. Her research also examines persistent childhood poverty and how it relates to adult success.

FULL PROFILE

Ohad Samet is the co-founder and CEO of TrueAccord, a data driven debt recovery platform seeking to put a human face on debt collections by using machine learning and behavioral analytics. He was recently appointed to the CFPB's Consumer Advisory Board.

FULL PROFILE

Corey currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Financial Services Practice of Oliver Wyman, a global consulting firm.  Most recently he was part of the stand-up executive team at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as Assistant Director for Deposits, Liquidity Lending, and Reporting Markets. His office recruited experts from various industries under the Bureau’s purview and led research, industry outreach, and policy development efforts related to credit reporting, debt collections, remittances, payday lending, and checking accounts.  He has testified before US Senate committees on consumer protection issues related to consumer reporting and debt collection.

FULL PROFILE

Dana Warren is Senior Director of Merchant Development for PayPal Credit at PayPal where she leads the distribution, marketing, and sales of consumer financing solutions for retailers in North America. Prior to joining PayPal in 2016, Dana spent eight years at American Express working in marketing and strategy.

EPIC is an initiative of the Aspen Institute's Financial Security Program.

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