Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
There are many forms of debt. There is secured debt. That means that the debt is secured by a lien against an asset that you own. The lien and the debt should be for less than the resale value of the asset. Unsecured debt does not have any such lien and is hopefully based on your capacity to service the debt. The problem with unsecured debt like credit cards is that it is not offset by some asset that you own and acts only to reduce the net worth on your balance sheet. Credit card debt would thus be categorized as bad debt as it only acts as a drag on building positive net worth.
So what is the purpose of a balance sheet? First business owners use balance sheets in order to analyze the strength and capabilities of their business. For example is the business ready to expand? Or should the business take immediate steps to strengthen cash reserves? Also balance sheets describe trends especially in the area of accounts receivables and payables. For instance is debt in payables being paid and is debt in receivables being received in a reasonable amount of time. Finally balance sheets are examined by banks investors and vendors to determine the amount of credit they will give the entity.
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Clear title ownership of assets such as your home reduce cash draw and this is incredibly important as you approach retirement. The financial crisis we are in now is described as a Balance Sheet crisis. We are in this crisis because nobody was paying attention to their Balance Sheets not even at the towering heights of our financial infrastructure. The symptoms were everywhere. While researching I found that the top sites on the internet for Balance Sheet are those who want to sell you something so that they can gain access to any assets on your balance sheet that might be left after this disaster.
To many non-financial people the balance sheet does not make sense in any case so they gravitate to the only report that is an easy read namely the income statement. Assets and liabilities are just too complex to grasp. In the last ten years or so this has changed so much so that readers and users are advised to lend substantially more credence to the balance sheet than the income statement. This "discrimination" exacted on the income statement is so severe that some investors are encouraged to even ignore the income statement as a whole. Why is this so? It could be the fiddling with revenue figures by many now defunct corrupt corporations which reported highly profitable figures whilst these businesses were heavily indebted (liabilities) or technically insolvent. Moreover high revenues are no guarantee against bankruptcy. Historically an income statement was drawn up first and the balance sheet second. The balance sheet became the "rubbish bin" for all items that could not balance the books.