Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How do you feel about the economy?

I was saying to my Dad last night that I feel optimistic that we'll eventually emerge from this recession but I feel quite cynical about our country's ability to shake the excesses we've come to covet. I'm not convinced that an economic recovery would bring lasting change to our unhealthy spending habits. 


Look at what's happened in such an astonishing period of time:
  • From 1980 to 2007, the median house price of a new American home quadrupled
  • The Dow Jones industrial average rose from 803 in the summer of 1982 to 14,165 in the fall of 2007
  • In 1982, the average household saved 11% of its disposable income. By 2007, it was less than 1%
In the 80s, only Nevada and New Jersey had casinos. Now 12 states do and 48 have some sort of legalized betting. 

The end of the world we once knew is certainly over, I'm just not convinced that our bad habits have been replaced with long-term prudent ones. Call me a pessimist. You're right - I am, in this case. I'd like to be proven wrong. I'd like to see this country admit that it needs help, that we need a wholesale rehabilitation, and I'd like to see us emerge triumphant from the mess we've gotten ourselves into.

We have a long way to go. 

(Image via The Caucus)


  1. "In 1982, the average household saved 11% of its disposable income. By 2007, it was less than 1%"

    -Being born in 1982, I can see why I am such a prudent saver - 11%, phew.

    I wonder why is has become so little, perhaps the ever increasing need for materialism? Think about it - in 1982 were there no 16 year olds carrying around Louis Vuitton satchels to school like there are now- no way man, I had an Eddie Bauer, life time guarantee back-pack, and you know what - I still have it. Think about all the parents of today - think of how much more they would be saving more if they could say NO you are not getting the LV satchel and instead give them the $20 Jansport.

    Also made me think then of Namibia - in 1982 - you think Oshikango was the way it was, clearly not. All the "materialistic" junk, i.e. fake Chicago White Sox Hats and phony 50 Cent shirts are all unnecessary items and those who purchased them could have saved that money and increase the 1% (I know the stat was for the U.S., but it is all relative). When did materialism get SOOOOOOO huge, I mean it was big before but now there are over 200 types of name brand jeans - in '82 there were like 5, Levis, Gloria Vanderbilts, and ummm, ummm, ummm.

  2. I'm so glad you brought up the point about Namibia's own material transformation. It's important to see this from a global perspective as well. I don't know the answer to the question of when did materialism become so popular. I looked around on Amazon and it appears that there's a lot of lit out there about this topic.