According to the Fed, all those credit offers we get in the mail are good for us:
Love That Junk Mail, Washington Wire, by Christopher Conkey: Think most people hate all those pre-approved offers for credit that jam your mailbox every week? Think again.
The Federal Reserve Monday released results from consumer surveys it undertook in 2004 and 2005, and one of the more interesting findings relates to the way people view pre-approved credit offers. While more than half of cardholders said they receive six or more offers a week, and less than half of the people receiving such solicitations actually open them, more than 70% of cardholders said the government should not outlaw pre-approved offers. ...
The authors of the Fed report say there’s a good reason for this: All those annoying, mailbox-clogging offers are actually good for us. The “prevalence of prescreened solicitations is useful in disseminating pricing information and encouraging competitive conditions in markets for credit cards generally, even if only a small minority of recipients actually responds,” the report said.
The authors also found evidence of an “other guy effect”...: 85% said they think pre-approved offers cause other people to use more credit, but only 15% admitted doing so themselves.
I wonder if the U.S. government gets offers in the mail from Asian and oil producing countries telling them they are pre-approved for billions and billions more in credit. More seriously, I wonder to what extent the knowledge that credit is available quickly if and when you need it through the internet, pre-approved mail offers, or other means has reduced precautionary and other types of saving.