It was income inequality, particularly in the US, which is at the very root of the present crises. Poor people make very bad consumers, capitalism needs consumers ..... lots of consumers with plenty of spare cash.
So as wages have been driven down and income inequality has widen in the last 30 years, it comes as no surprise that also in the last 30 years credit has become more and more easily available, specially to poor people.
This did stave off under consumption which is the consequence of low wages, for a while, but the end result of giving easy credit to poor people was always going to be fairly obvious.
so like wage inequality is inherent in the capitalist system...who knew.
So we have a system that promotes low wages ("good for business") but offers credit to poor people to boost consumption and requires the government to effectively subsidise businesses to be able to pay said low wages, in order to sell stuff to people who can't afford the stuff they sell because they're on wages that don't cover the cost of living (including raising kids)....so the poor people need to be offered credit in order to be able to consume to the required level to keep the system going.
Totally in agreement with ernie_lynch about the living wage, I am a big supporter of it. It would allow more people to be able to afford to live and raise families without having to rely on tax credits, top up benefits etc because a lot of businesses will pay only the legal minimum they can get away with, "flexible" part time working and zero hours contracts are on the increase so it's easier for employers to hire and fire at will.
If they properly went after the serious tax dodgers as well, that would reduce the need to pick on the poor. Fewer people claiming in-work benefits (thanks to better, living wages, and a Scandinavian-style subsidised childcare system allowing parents to return to work without crippling costs) would allow more money to be invested helping the long term unemployed, and in job creation, so that the unemployed and the yoof have a future to look forward to, and having babies in order to secure a council flat and a benefit income is less of an attractive choice for young women who come out of education thinking they have few other prospects.
Not a criticism of anyone in work and claiming in work benefits by the way - it's the way the system works, and I would if I was on low wages. I am saying the system isn't right. People should be better off working, and people being in work should lessen the burden on the state welfare bill.
But the CEOs and the shareholders will bleat and lobby the government if they dare suggest that their multi million pound profits should be reduced, so it'll never happen.