Americans have experienced the passing of the "golden age" of consumer lending. The author believes there's a very good chance they're about to enter a five- to 10-year period of: reduced consumer demand for credit, tighter credit standards, and higher loan rates. He came to believe that the above issues are nearly a foregone conclusion. Several things apply: 1. trends in consumer credit balances, 2. the wealth factor, 3. higher taxes, 4. home appreciation and equity loans, 5. auto lending, 6. higher loan rates, and 7. impact of the subprime debacle. Credit unions can respond by making superior product knowledge and consumer advice the cornerstone of their lending programs because these will be in short supply at the banks. Secondly, CUs will have to get better at making loans to consumers who don't have perfect credit. Finally, CUs will have to get better at account management.