Over the medium term, U.S. households need to earn more and spend less to clean up their balance sheets and get ready for retirement, while governments need more revenues – over and above what will come naturally as economic growth resumes – and/or reduced expenditures to get their fiscal affairs in order. So I’m happy to see stories like this one, both reporting and encouraging what may be a trend toward less a less materialistic lifestyle.
In the short term, the imperatives are the opposite. Higher consumer and governmental spending are needed to restore the economy to full employment. Even if you think that it would be a good idea, on economic and spiritual grounds, to stop celebrating the Incarnation with an annual flurry of luxury-goods purchases, you want this year to have been a “good” Christmas for retailers. Even deficit hawks, if they’re sane, don’t want a smaller deficit for the current fiscal year.
Both politicians and journalists face a challenge in communicating this set of mixed messages. Good luck to them and to the Detroit Lions.