What Papadimitriou found was this: Last year, outstanding credit-card debt dropped an eye-popping $93.2 billion to about $876 billion, according to Federal Reserve data, which are not seasonally adjusted. During the same period, charge-offs -- the unsecured debt the banks determine they won't get back and charge off to loss reserves -- added up to $83.3 billion.
In other words, only about $10 billion of the drop is attributable to consumers paying off their debt.
So, not only are people not using credit cards as much as they used to do, a lot of people are walking away from their debt, probably via the bankruptcy laws, leaving the credit card companies holding the bag.
Still, that 93 billion is peanuts. Just wait until the federal government goes bankrupt to the tune of 20 trillion or so, then we'll really have a financial crisis.