Econometer: Do American shoppers need to learn to be more like Europeans?

Phillip Molnar, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Business News

Supply chain issues are disrupting retailers and restaurants, but a recent Bloomberg Opinion piece argues that Americans need to act more like Europeans who traditionally buy less.

Allison Schrager, a Bloomberg opinion columnist, writes that household consumption by Americans grew about 65 percent from 1990 to 2015, compared to 35 percent in Europe.

She argues that the U.S. has become a nation of "shopaholics" and needs to trim back excesses — even if that just means buying fewer cheap goods and instead focusing on higher quality products that last longer (as is more common in Europe).

"Long-term, sustainable growth doesn't come from going deep into debt to buy stuff we don't really need," she wrote.

Q: Do American shoppers need to learn to live more like Europeans?

Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates


YES: We need to spend less on junk, buy higher quality products and hold our politicians to the same level of discipline. Spending money via credit cards is foolish unless you pay off the card in full monthly. Spending dollars that we don't have as a nation just because borrowing costs are low and it will juice the economy temporarily is even more foolish. The inflation that is here is not temporary and will get worse.

James Hamilton, University of California, San Diego

NO: I agree that a higher national saving rate would help support the investment and productivity gains that are key to long-run growth. But national saving is the sum of private sector saving (currently a big positive number) and public sector saving (currently a big negative number). The biggest spendthrift and borrower is the federal government, not individual consumers. Reducing the huge federal deficits should be the first target if we're trying to get America to live within our means.

Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth


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