The Times tosses off a story on the impending credit-card crisis, something BusinessWeek wrote three weeks ago.

Lenders wrote off an estimated $21 billion in bad credit card loans in the first half of 2008 as more borrowers defaulted on their payments. With companies laying off tens of thousands of workers, the industry stands to lose at least another $55 billion over the next year and a half, analysts say. Currently, the total losses amount to 5.5 percent of credit card debt outstanding, and could surpass the 7.9 percent level reached after the technology bubble burst in 2001.

This assertion could use some evidence:

The depth of the financial crisis has shocked a credit-hooked nation into rethinking its habits. Many families once content to buy now and pay later are eager to trim their reliance on credit cards.

The NYT’s David Leonhardt is good today in exploring whether stocks are cheap. Warren Buffett and John Bogle think so, but this guy, James Melcher, who predicted the bust, is not:

He went on: “In the last 20 years — and particularly in the last six or seven — you had the most massive creation of liquidity the world has ever known.” Consumers went ever deeper into debt, thanks to loose lending standards, and a shadow banking system, made up of hedge funds and investment banks, allowed Wall Street to do the same. All that debt lifted economic growth and stock returns.

“It was a nice party,” Mr. Melcher said. “The problem is that all the bills are coming due at the same time.” He thinks stocks could easily fall an additional 20 percent and maybe 35 percent before hitting bottom.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.