Before the Great Recession, U.S. consumer debt had risen fairly steadily for more than a decade. With the downturn, it finally dropped...until December's small rise. However, a longer look at the trend of ever-rising debt shows that America is still extraordinarily overextended.
Negative equity is linked to higher foreclosures. About a quarter of households with mortgages already owe more than their homes are worth. If prices slip further, up to half of all homeowners may end up underwater -- a scary prospect for Americans' financial health.