I noted a while back that the U.S. savings rate was on the rise, that it looks like U.S. carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2007, that President Obama was making a big push toward making America a nation of creators as opposed to consumers, and asked in May,0 “Is the U.S. consumption binge over?“ Well, I’m asking again:
Have you personally seen evidence of permanent behavior shifts or is this is just a small speed bump on the Autobahn to oblivion.
On Friday, a NYT piece, “Reluctance to Spend May Be Legacy of Recession,” made some similar points:
The Great Depression imbued American life with an enduring spirit of thrift. The current recession has perhaps proven wrenching enough to alter consumer tastes, putting value in vogue.
“It’s simply less fun pulling up to the stoplight in a Hummer than it used to be,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at the research and trading firm ITG. “It’s a change in norms.”
Of course, it’s a long way from Hummers to John Stuart Mill’s “Stationary State.” Also, the “the savings rate dipped to 4.2% from 4.5% in June and from 6.0% in May,” and even the 6.0% was only a blip to the 50-year average (the figure below is the 3-month centered average of the personal savings rate).
Still, the NYT notes:
On Friday, the Commerce Department said spending rose 0.2 percent in July from the previous month. But most economists see this activity as short-lived, pointing out that incomes did not rise. Some suggest the recession has endured so long and spread pain so broadly that it has seeped into the culture, downgrading expectations, clouding assumptions about the future and eroding the impulse to buy.
And the piece offers this interesting factoid about gardening: