You know there are some vibrant green shoots when major credit card issuers are voluntarily taking 65% haircuts on some outstanding balances.
Consider Bedros Alikcioglu, a gas station owner in Newport Beach, Calif. He owed $112,000 on four cards and was paying $3,000 a month in interest and late fees. "It was so hard to earn that money, and paying it to nowhere didn't make sense anymore," said Mr. Alikcioglu, 75.
He signed up with a debt settlement company named Hope Financial, which negotiated deals with his creditors to settle for about 35 percent of his balance. Hope Financial is charging Mr. Alikcioglu about 12 percent of his original debt.
So banks with major consumer exposure are now faced with a rather peculiar situation. The overly leveraged consumer who is chronically delinquent now has leverage over the banks because it's increasingly likely the value of that debt to the bank will be zero in the coming months. You don't need the threat of cramdown legislation when things are this bad.
Credit Bailout: Issuers Slashing Card Balances [NYT]