Retail may be in even worse shape than it appears. Choice quote: "Those profits on plastic are helping obscure the true extent of the industry's pain, a major pressure point for a piece of the economy that employs one in 10 Americans." (emphasis added). And this is leading to an increased emphasis on signing customers up for plastic - you know, because Americans haven't learned a thing from subprime home lending, subprime auto lending, Wells Fargo accounts...shall we keep going? They are, in fact, counting on customers going into debt. The problem is, however, that many who are, aren't able to pay and now Synchrony Financial, for one, is setting up reserves for losses. Rinse, wash and repeat.