American Spender


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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  • Maccabee Montandon

    @Mister Genius -- That's true but that savings is different than what we are talking about and nowhere do we say this is the total DPI or spending. We simply highlighted what the additional DPI was in Dec. versus the additional personal expenditures the following month -- perhaps the language could have been more clear but otherwise I think the point stands, no?

  • Whys Alives

    The Fed should print exactly 800 billion more dollars and the government should use it to pay off the Chinese. Then taxes should be raised to match federal spending plus 10% of the total deficit, at which point, Americans can decide what services they want to cut in order to lower taxes. This would free us from under China's thumb, balance the budget, and eliminate the deficit in 10 years. Sound too radical? Since when is waking up to reality "radical"? It is not that we can not afford current spending and debt. The problem is we choose to ignore it and put off indefinitely. It's time to pay the piper and live within our means.

  • Mister Genius

    Dear Retardo,

    The numbers you cite for disposable income and personal expenditures are not the absolute numbers but the *change* from the previous month.

    If you go down two paragraphs in the press release, you'll see that savings (Disposable Income minus Spending) was actually a total of $ 367.2 billion for January alone.

    Are your editors high? Are you outsourcing fact-checking to Moronistan?

    Seriously, email me if you need someone who actually understands statistics and numbers to doublecheck your work before you embarass yourselves like this again.


  • Scott Harris

    also @Daniel Phelan
    Americans don't print the money... The Federal Reserve (which by the way, is a private institution) prints it.

  • Scott Harris

    Jamaica? Moldova??? Why not go all the way and put Haiti and Liberia on that list too.

    I understand the message your trying to portray, but comparing us tho those countries means nothing to most Americans. I think the real cause here is that most American's think we are still the wealthiest and most indestructible country on the planet. Comparing America's economy to UK, China, India, and Saudi Arabia's spending power would have triggered proper emotions.

  • Daniel Phelan

    Hey, we Americans are experts at printing more money. Why not spend today what you have to borrow from your children tomorrow?