Concern About Overindebted Americans Is Overblown

It's become a mantra: American consumers have been living beyond their means, borrowing promiscuously, and now the bill is coming due. Having nearly drowned in a sea of debt, U.S. consumers must now repair their finances, spend more prudently and recognize the wisdom of past generations: spend only what you earn. But while endlessly repeated by financial gurus, politicians and the media, the belief that American consumers as a whole have been living beyond their means is a myth. Wall Street was massively overextended, but on average, consumers are not.

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Nobody Knows Nothing

Everyday, my mailbox gets inundated with reports from strategists and economists. Two years ago, most were predicting a fairly rosy scenario for the global economy - and to be fair, so was I. Today, most are predicting a dire future of negative growth and economies mired in a deep and intractable recession. The predictions of the past were mostly wrong; there is little reason to believe that today’s forecasts will be much better.

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