Morning Business Memo

Dec 8, 2011 8:29am

This could be a make or break summit for the euro.

The leaders of France and Germany are trying to rally support for their plan for much tighter budget discipline. National spending plans would be submitted to a European authority. In return for agreement, Germany is hinting it would agree to more support for troubled member states from the European Central Bank.

Ratings firm Standard & Poor’s raise the stakes, with the agency warning that it might downgrade the bonds of all 27 members of the European Union. Government leaders meet Friday. The outcome will be closely watched by financial markets.

More people are riding public transit. The American Public Transport Association says ridership on buses and trains increased 2 percent in the first nine months of the year. High gas prices might be one reason for the trend. The association says the modest gain in employment is also a factor. The peak in total rides was reached in 2008 before the recession hit.

Another sign of economic growth: The Federal Reserve says in October U.S. consumers stepped up their borrowing. They charged slightly more on credit cards, reversing a recent trend. The credit reporting firm TransUnion says people are still cautious, and fewer than 1 percent of credit card customers are 90 days behind on payments.

“Credit card delinquency rates have been near all-time lows and continue to hover in that area,” says Steve Chaouki, vice president of financial services at TransUnion. “In the past consumers used to pay their mortgages first. Now we’re seeing them paying their credit cards first.”

They have a much lower late payment rate than mortgages.

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