Thursday, February 17, 2011

The new malaise

Apparently some recession-weary Americans are saying, to hell with it, and defrosting their credit cards.  It's all about the new malaise: frugal fatigue.

According to the Reuters wire, The National Foundation for Credit Counselling's January poll revealed 66% of US consumers are done with the penny pinching and are ready to resume spending.  But interestingly, 20% of US households forced to curb spending during the recession intend to maintain the changes.  Ironically, financial commentators caution these "perma-frugalists" could have a significant, negative economic impact.

Of course, Americans are not the only consumers battling financial belt-tightening and the Faustian bargaining required to negotiate our modern lives.

Western economies tend to lurch from one extreme to the other and ride out the middle. You have to marvel at a system that requires us to earn, earn, earn and then, spend, spend, spend, and ultimately, borrow to spend.  Growth, growth and more GROWTH.  It's a bit of a trip.

I've only iced my credit card once at some crunch point during my early twenties when my money mismanagement finally threatened to cinch my neck in the debt collector's noose.  The looming shame of having my name registered at Baycorp (NZ's debt collection authority) with the other defaulting miscreants was enough to panic me into miserly submission.  The bill was paid.

Rayban Wayfarers pushed the debt envelope for me
 back in the day - just one purchase too far.
Images via

I can't say I learned my lesson; I just played the game better.   Of course, I can see now that doesn't make me at all clever.  It did help keep Visa and Mastercard and Amex and Diners ticking along though.  They loved me, in that corporate, special-offer kind of way.

I barely rate a salutation now.  It would seem I've fallen off the valued customer radar.

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