Thursday, August 28, 2008

The American Economy: A House of Cards?

From an article on the economy earlier this year: "Consumers gave some of the nation's retailers a little relief in April following months of dismal sales, but business was helped along by heavy discounting that could hurt fiscal first-quarter earnings."

I've read that our economy is largely driven by consumer spending. That seems awfully fragile to me. Eventually consumers are going to wake up and realize that they no longer need a larger big screen TV or a bigger house or to slavishly change their home decor because the advertising industry declares their current look "dated". How long will consumers choose to go into personal debt to buy yet more stuff that doesn't truly make them happy?

Personal consumption has always been a large part of the economy. From the 1950s through the early 1980s it was around 63% of the GDP. In the middle 1980s it started increasing to it's current 70% number. What changed? The large increase in credit card usage and mortgage / home equity loans. We all now know the consequences of all that mortgage debt, which I've written about in other posts. Is credit card debt next?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Problem with Pets

The cat on the left is Harvey. He is,
without question, the best looking cat on
the planet. He's also the sweetest, most
friendly cat we've ever had.

My wife wants to get him a buddy, either
another cat or a dog. I've been resisting.
Another cat means I have to clean twice
the litter, twice the puke... And a dog is
even higher maintenance.

However, these aren't the real reasons.
The real reason is they will break my
heart. Harvey is 8 or 9 - he's got another
8 years or so if we're lucky. And then,
he'll break my heart.

I've been thinking about death lately. The
end of the summer is here. The plants
aren't growing as fast; some are starting
to fade and wilt. Everything has a season
- and that includes us. Our season is
actually quite long, compared to the
plants in the back yard and our cat. But,
it doesn't seem long enough. It all goes by so fast.

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail