Consumerism Is A Fantasyland

The savings rate has been negative for an entire year only twice before — in 1932 and 1933 — two years when Americans were having to deplete savings to cope with the massive job layoffs and business failures caused by the Great Depression.

This time the reasons for the negative savings rate are vastly different. Americans are spending all their incomes and then some because they feel wealthier because of the soaring value of their homes, which for many Americans is the largest investment they own.

But analysts cautioned that this behavior was risky at a time when 78 million Americans are on the verge of retirement. The baby boomers start turning 60 this year, which means they can begin retiring with Social Security in just two more years.

So says the Associated Press, via Taipei Times (just in case some US media outlet screwed with the story).

After setting records for five straight years, sales of both existing and new homes are expected to decline this year under the impact of rising mortgage rates. The weaker sales will translate into slower price appreciation which in turn will slow consumer spending, analysts are forecasting.

And what if housing price “appreciation” goes negative as well? It’s not the first time I have heard the “D” word.

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