THE CHICAGO IL REAL ESTATE MARKET, AND OTHER THINGS CHICAGO, FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A LITTLE WHITE DOG!
It's a bit of a sad day for Chicago Basketball Fans - Chicago Bulls Greats Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr each passed away tragically today, within hours of each other. Two of Chicago's most fervent cheerleaders have left the building - very tragic indeed! See coverage in today's Chicago Tribune.
I caught another story in the Chicago Trib the other day syndicated by Bloomberg News about an unusual tactic American Express is taking. You know American Express. Am Ex. The green, or gold, or blue card with the Centurion Logo on it.
For years, these guys advertised, heavily, to never "Leave Home Without It." Their card solicitations were everywhere! And most everybody I knew, as well as the close business friends and associates of our Team Leader, and my Human Daddy Dean, had one.
Well now, however, Am Ex is actually paying some of its cardholders to cut up their cards, in return for a sizable $300 American Express Gift Card. To be eligible for the gift card, cardholders must pay their outstanding balances in full before April 30th. Canceling your card may lead to forfeiture of any accumulated Rewards Points or Rebates not yet earned.
Why the unusual step?
Quite simply, American Express wants to stave off card holder default. Am Ex has seen a steady rise recently in charge-offs - or open account balances the company now tags as "uncollectable." Last month, 8.29% of its charge balances were considered not collectible, versus 7% in December, 2008. Payments at least 30 days late rose in January as well.
As unemployment rates continue to climb across the U.S., many consumers have begin using their credit and charge cards somewhat irresponsibly, to draw money so they can pay off normal monthly household expenses. Other credit card issuers have reduced credit limits, raised interest rates, and dramatically cut back on once-commonplace card solicitations. (Heck, a couple of years ago, even I would receive a few credit card solicitations in my lil' mailbox each week - and I have four paws!)
Am Ex was one of the recipients of U.S. Bailout Money last year to boost its capital balances - nearly $3.4 Billion worth! However, its profit picture continues gloomy - Fourth Quarter, 2008 Profit tumbled 72% as more and more American Express Cardholders defaulted.
Me? Being a conservative dog (albeit with liberal political views), I stay away from the plastic. Whenever I head out on the town, I often conveniently leave my wallet in my other fur . . .
. . . and let my humans pick up the tab!
Check out my post from yesterday @ BlogChicagoHomes.com.
YOUR ACE REPORTER ON FOUR PAWS,
BUDDY HOLLY MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO