Looming credit card debt may be next crisis

By Jonathan Spicer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top financial executives see no quick end to the global economic storm, warning this week that the current crisis could hold more surprises due to looming credit card debt.

The United States is leading the world into a recession, and perhaps worse, and executives at the Reuters Global Finance Summit said it was hard to make any predictions due to a dire mix of bruised markets, strained governments, and a worried public.

But some things are clear.

“You have to believe that we have frightened the American consumer pretty deeply here,” said Ed Clark, chief executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), North America’s seventh-largest bank.

“It’s hard not to believe that they’re not going to go on strike for a period of time,” he told the Reuters Summit. “And it’s hard to see the positive element that’s going to save us from having a deep recession,”

Executives told the Reuters Summit the mortgage-inspired crisis infecting markets will likely be followed by even bigger problems borne out of growing credit card debt.

A credit card crisis “is waiting in the wings,” said John Whitehead, former chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan.

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