Two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York have come up with a comforting theory for bankers: Don't blame credit card issuers for rising chargeoff rates-blame consumers' widening need for credit.

In the March edition of the New York Fed's monthly magazine, Current Issues, Donald P. Morgan and Ian Toll drew distinctions between "supply side" explanations for high chargeoffs (that lenders are supplying cards to riskier borrowers without raising rates to compensate) and "demand side" explanations (that consumers have been driving up debt burdens on their own).

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