Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shop 'til you Drop- A Lesson in Math

Barbara Ehrenreich's article at The Nation, The Fall of the American Consumer, is a requiem for the world's number one economic piston.

While Americans search for interview outfits in consignment stores and switch from Whole Foods to Wal-Mart for sustenance, the world watches tremulously. The Australian Courier-Mail, for example, warns of an economic "pandemic" if Americans cut back any further, since we are responsible for $9 trillion a year in spending, compared to a puny $1 trillion for the one billion-strong Chinese. Yes, we have been the world's designated shoppers, and, if we fall down on the job, we take the global economy with us.

Wow, nine trillion dollars. Let's hazard a guess and say there are approximately 217 million Americans 19 and older. That's an average of $41,475 in spending per year per adult; that's a lot of spending. Of course, it's not an accurate illustration for obvious reasons (adjust the number for age and class), but nine trillion is too hard a number to comprehend. Our consumer spending is about 70% of our GDP, a standard measure of the size of an economy.

    GDP = consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports), or,
    GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

Don't say I never told you nothin'!

Well, patriot that I am, I'm going to an outlet mall with a friend on Tuesday :)


Ms. M&P said...

Those numbers are unbelievable. I hate to say it, but I'm kind of proud of our shopping. If Americans are good at anything, it's shopping!

I promise I'll be a better American after I get my EF up and running.

PiggyBankBlues said...

well, i just killed a weekend's worth of tips at the outlet mall yesterday-- so i did my duty!

Ms. M&P said...

God's work, Piggybank. God's work.