Survey Finds Many Americans 'on the Edge of Financial Disaster'

Morning Money Memo …

As the economy improves, more Americans are borrowing money to pay for purchases.

Thirty-seven percent have credit card debt that equals or is greater than their emergency savings, says a survey released today by

"These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster," says Bankrate's Greg McBride.

The average credit card debt for U.S. households is more than $15,000, according to the Federal Reserve.

"From a purely financial standpoint, it makes more sense to pay down that high interest rate" before you start to save, says Kelley Long, member of the American Institute of CPAs.

Borrowing money with a credit card is usually very expensive.

"If you are over your head in debt, you might want to consider a balanced transfer card, but you need to have pretty good credit to qualify for the best offers," says credit card writer Beverly Harzog, author of "The Debt Escape Plan." A balanced transfer card "would give you an opportunity to pay off your debt while paying zero interest on that."

New Greece Agreement Buoys Stocks

International stock markets extended gains today after Greece and its European creditors reached an agreement that put off the immediate threat of bankruptcy and exit from the euro. Stock futures fell slightly this morning on Wall Street after Friday's rally to another record high. Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped below $50.50 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.

Honda President to Step Aside

Honda - the Japanese automaker at the center of an air-bag defect scandal - says its president, Takanobu Ito, will step aside and be replaced by another Honda executive. The surprise move follows major recalls by Honda of vehicles equipped with air bags made by Japan's Takata Corp. The air bags have inflators that can explode, expelling shards of metal and plastic. At least five deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.

HSBC Earnings Disappoint

Another big bank has reported a decline in earnings. HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, says full-year profits fell 16 percent. CEO Stuart Gulliver acknowledged today that 2014 profits disappointed, but said a tough fourth quarter "masked some of the progress made over the preceding three quarters." The disappointing results came as HSBC was being pummeled by allegations that its Swiss private bank helped the wealthy evade taxes.

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