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Best columns: Credit check, Dollar balance
Reliance on credit cards tends to grow &ldquo;in tough economic times like these,&rdquo; says Andrea Coombes in MarketWatch, but it shouldn&rsquo;t. U.S. goods seem cheap to European visitors, says Martin Feldstein in <em>The
 

Keeping your credit in check

Reliance on credit cards tends to grow “in tough economic times like these,” says Andrea Coombes in MarketWatch, but really “it’s in times like these that we should take more care than ever” to avoid incurring too much debt. This isn’t easy. First, we like to splurge—in a recent survey, 42 percent said they’d splurged on themselves in the past month, many “because I deserve it” and more still because “it just feels good.” But try to separate wants from needs. Then, treat your credit card like a checkbook, mentally or on paper subtracting each charge from your checking account (not your savings). Shop with a list, and stick to it. And “don’t say to yourself, ’I’ll charge it now and pay it off next month.’ Just don’t.”

The dollar has more room below

Just because goods and services in the U.S. seem cheap to European visitors, says Martin Feldstein in The New York Sun, doesn’t mean “that the dollar must rise from its current level.” In fact, the overall price of U.S. products is “still too high to erase the enormous trade imbalance between America and the rest of the world.” The trade deficit last year was $700 billion, or 5 percent of GDP, and it’s “unthinkable that the global economic system will continue indefinitely to allow America to import more goods and services than it exports.” That means we need a trade surplus. How? Well, the falling dollar has pushed up U.S. exports by 25 percent in three years, so learn to appreciate depreciation.

 

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