Buddy, Can You Borrow A Dime?

Commercial banks by the thousands these days are reeling from billions of dollars worth of bad real estate and corporate loans. Yet for most of them, there has been a heartening bright spot: retail customers. Excluding mortgages, consumer lending, which jumped 30% between 1985 and 1989, to $400 billion, has been a cash cow that has offset the bleak profusion of write-downs and write-offs.

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