AMERICANS lost so much in 2008 - jobs and homes, incomes and wealth - that the recession still dominates the public mood three elections later. They lost something else too, something less talked-about on the campaign trail: a credit lifeline.
For households before the crash, borrowing made good times better and hard times bearable. It held out the promise of a step up, even for the millions of working-class Americans whose wages had stalled. Paying down debt after 2008 had the exact opposite effect, amplifying the hurt and anger - and sapping the recovery.
"If you take the credit away, people are going to feel poor," said Lucia Dunn, an economics professor at Ohio State University who...