Desperate consumers can no longer get credit -- Can you capitalize?

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With the economy softening and credit card delinquencies on the rise, the banks are toughening up and raising interest rates and cutting credit availability for Americans on the brink. With home values down, HELOC's are no longer a piggy bank to be tapped for buying SUVs and flat-screen TVs.

According
to BusinessWeek, "What happens to consumers? Nobody really knows, since the U.S. hasn't faced a credit crunch of this magnitude in 25 years. Certainly, many will try to live within their means. Others with decent credit will seek different sources of cash such as new peer-to-peer lenders, which let ordinary people act as bankers, making loans over the Internet to borrowers."

It's about time that people learn about living within their means and that may be the one good thing to come of this: a return to thrift.

But if you've been living within your means and have some cash to invest, you may be able to capitalize. The sudden stinginess of credit card issuers is likely to flush a lot of borrowers onto sites like Prosper.com, which arranges loans between individuals.

The only question is whether you want to take a risk lending money to people who've been cut off by the banks.
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