A reader writes:
The St. Louis Fed has a good graph that shows the outstanding private credit (consumer debt) since the end of World War II. I believe you are justified in your "two decades" comment although it was actually about two and half decades ago that it really started to explode after starting to ramp up in the 70's. Between about 1984 and 1990 it doubled from $400 billion to $800 billion. Then doubled again in the '90's to $1.6 trillion by 2000. It appeared to be on pace to double again this decade before this recession hit.