Thursday, May 10, 2007

Living Beyond Your Means

I have always thought of the Brits as thrifty folk, unlike us crazy irresponsible Americans. It turns out that they are even crazier than we are. Expensive country though.

LONDON -- To understand why economists are increasingly worried about Britain, it helps to look to Adam Smith.

Not the 18th-century Scottish philosopher, but rather a 28-year-old Cheltenham mortgage-debt collector who shares the famous name. Last June, Mr. Smith was in debt to the tune of $50,000. Like many British consumers -- who are even more leveraged than Americans -- he had been borrowing largely to cover his rising living expenses.

Struggling to keep up with credit-card and loan payments on his $1,900 monthly salary, he sought protection from creditors. "I was just trying to live an independent life away