Robert McKinley, Senior Analyst/Editor Robert McKinley, with 33 years experience covering payment cards and payment systems, is Senior Analyst/Editor for CardFlash and other payments-related publications. He is the retired founder and chief executive of RAM Research, CardWeb and CardTrak. McKinley served as an expert witness in 100+ litigations including two multi-$billion trials, testified before the U.S. Congress, chaired multiple payments conferences, hired as consultant by Fortune 100 companies and several overseas financial institutions. Full Bio: www.rbm4.com

Borrowing Propensity

Despite the growth of purchase volumes, consumer leverage, as estimated by the financial obligations ratio (FOR), which measures debt service payments on mortgage debt, auto debt, consumer debt and property taxes as a percentage of disposable personal income, continued to decline, amounting to 15.27% in fourth-quarter 2014. This compares with a peak FOR of 18.09% recorded in fourth-quarter 2007 and a 35-year average of 16.51%. As interest rates rise, and consumers experience higher debt service burdens.