Monday, February 23, 2009

• A Positive Trend Rising Out Of The Fear

A positive trend is imposing itself on the American landscape. The average savings rate, which had been 7.7% in 1992 and even reached lofty levels of around 12% in the ‘70s, dropped to almost zero four years ago and stayed there. In the last quarter of 2008 that trend made a dramatic turn.

The fourth quarter of 2008 found a 2.9% personal savings rate with 3.6% reached in December. The consumer has made a decision, forced though it may have been, that having some cash reserves for a rainy day is a prudent life style change. The other good news is that the consumer is ignoring those absurd pleadings sprinkled across the MSM attempting to instill more fear, that if you don’t spend and consume with abandon, the recession will get worse. Even the NYT laments that saved dollars don’t circulate through the economy.

The argument, obviously, runs that consumption now forms such a major portion (71%) of U.S. GDP, that only the consumer’s spending can bring this recession out of its tailspin. Ignore those experts and pundits, and disregard their threats and idiotic short-term thinking. While Obama helps failing companies and bails mortgage foreclosures, consumers should disregard the noise and remain on track. The economy is a long-term game with long-term effects in which patience should prevail as the governing strategy.

With this perspective, consumers armed with their increased savings will gain confidence as they live within reasonable and manageable levels of consumption. Wherever they choose to preserve their capital in a pillow, in gold, silver or any other medium, the state of mind will be positively impacted over a 3 or 4 year period. Such assurance in time will translate into long term, sustainable support of the economy.

It is hoped that consumers will ignore government and expert pleadings, and that current trends will prevail pushing savings rates to levels achieved 30 and 40 years ago. Perhaps we can say, "good riddance" to profligate spending for a generation or two into the future. It would, however, be too much to expect that such attitude could infect government through osmosis. With the return of consumer confidence there will also be an increase in the powerful sense of freedom, and a recession of the fear that government is trying so hard to instill in the American taxpayer.


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