American Spender

Spending

Last December we had, as a nation, quite a bit of cash lying around. The following month we found a way to spend it. In fact, we spent some $12 billion more in January than we had saved up. That's a lot of flat-screens—or an all-inclusive vacation that would put Sandals Jamaica to shame. It's also more than the gross domestic product of several entire nations, according to the CIA's World Factbook. So are we up to our old ways, living beyond our means and spending money we don't really have? Or are we once again happily striding forth into the marketplace, confident that this nascent recovery will only grow stronger? With any luck, the latter. Let's just hope the answer to both of those questions doesn't reflect our complicated relationship to spending, yielding a single reply: yes.

Infographic: Rob Vargas

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