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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If you've got it, spend it

A new Marist poll – the results of which the Freeman published this morning – found that a majority of respondents are optimistic that 2009 will be better than the recession-wracked 2008 but also that chief among many people’s New Year’s resolutions is to spend less money.

Uh-oh.

Spending less money may be good for personal finances but it’s ruinous to the nation’s economy. Consumer spending – whether on cars, washing machines, groceries, dinner at a restaurant, a gas tank fill-up or a pack of gum – makes up two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, and when spending slows, as it has in recent months, the economy slows, too.

The overriding problem is that recessions are self-fulfilling prophecies – that is, if people even believe the economy is worsening (usually because they’ve been told as much by the media), they cut back on spending, which causes the economy to actually worsen, which causes people to spend even less, which causes the economy to worsen further, and so on.

And the sad part is the spending cutbacks aren’t being driven by people having less money; they’re being driven by people fearing they’ll have less money … by way of losing their jobs because of the recession they helped cause.

So how do we stop the economy’s downward spiral? By resolving to spend more money in 2009, not less. Because I’ve got news for you: This recession isn’t the result of bank failures, layoffs and problems at the Big Three U.S. automakers. Rather, the bank failures, layoffs and Big Three problems are the result of the recession – the recession that we, the people, created by cutting our spending because we feared a recession; and the recession that only we, the people, can end. All it requires is a willingness to open our wallets a bit wider.

I’m not suggesting that people who are worried about their financial well-being buy a $50,000 SUV that gets 10 miles to the gallon or take a two-week vacation in Europe. But I am suggesting that we try to resume some our spending habits from better times – going to more movies, eating out a bit more often, treating ourselves to something that we want but don’t really need, enjoying a weekend trip, etc. Those little bits of extra indulgence will go a long way toward curing what ails this great nation of ours and toward making 2009 the better year for which we all are hoping.

So here’s hoping – and wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

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3 Comments:

Blogger charlie the tuna said...

No sure where you got your economics degree but you need to go back and study the subject or at the very least consult with an economist before you rave on.
Typical uninformed foolishness from the freeeman

December 31, 2008 at 4:13 PM 
Blogger Jeremy Schiffres, City Editor said...

Charlie:
If your position is that consumer spending does NOT account for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, then you are even less informed than you accuse me of being.
-JS

December 31, 2008 at 6:55 PM 
Blogger greenlady said...

I agree if you have it spend it locally. You should also support the businesses that support the community people. I hate to say it but there is a local company that is laying off locals and hiring out of state people. This hurts our community.

January 23, 2009 at 6:28 PM 

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