A Forgotten Anniversary : the Credit Card.
Since fifty years ago this month, Americans have had a love affair with plastic but it's an affair that often ends badly (Brian Williams, NBC News)
In 1958, American Express created a worldwide credit card network. That same year, Bank of America created the BankAmericard in 1958, a product which, with its overseas affiliates, eventually evolved into the Visa system. (Wikipedia)
When people start using credit cards to pay other credit cards, or when they depend on their credit for food you can only agree there is something wrong with the system.
In fact, some people
82 % of Americans feel credit cards are essential today, with the same percentage saying credit cards provide a valuable service.
The closest equivalent to the credit card in France is the deferred debit card, which operates like a normal debit card, except that all purchase transactions are postponed until the end of the month, thereby giving the customer between 1 and 31 days of interest-free credit. The annual fee for a deferred debit card is around €10 more than for one with immediate debit. (Wikipedia)The French may OWN a bit less but they also OWE a lot less. This has good and bad consequences.
In the US and the UK, the economy has been driven by household spending, consumption has been driven by credit, and a lot less in France, so that's why when there were periods of expansion France grew a lot more slowly than the UK and the US but conversely when it's slowing down, it will slow down in a more moderate fashion than the UK or the US. (on BBC News)
For more on the credit card, I would suggest an excellent Frontline Investigation called "The Secret History of the Credit Card", a program that should be shown in every school across the nation.