Sunday, March 8, 2009

Did we not learn our lesson?

Last summer, fuel prices spiked to over $4.00 a gallon. Everyone complained about how the prices kept us from going on vacations and depleted bank accounts just to get to work. So now we have low fuel prices (yes, not as low as they were last winter, but still pretty low), and did we learn our lesson? Well let's see. We are back on the road, doing what we do best as Americans. Drive everywhere. Now don't get me wrong, I love the open road. However, those that weathered last summers torrential gas prices are the same ones that had money in their bank account to offset the rise in prices. Have we as a nation learned our lesson? I don't think so. Gas is cheap, and so we go back on the road.

But there is one side benefit to being a nation of spenders, and that is this line:
For U.S. consumers pinched by the economic crisis, falling gasoline prices have created what some analysts call a sort of "stimulus package" that has pumped billions of dollars in disposable income back into their wallets.

So, by increasing the disposable income, we have seen the creation of a stimulus of sorts to our economy. Huh... now if there was a way to do that for all Americans - you mean a tax break? And what about businesses, they spend money too on things like fuel, equipment, etc... oh you mean a tax break would help there too?

So while I wish I could say the American population is taking advantage of the lower fuel costs by putting something aside for a rainy day...but at least our "if we have it, spend it" ways are boosting what little economy we have. That is what is going to get us out of this. Everyday Americans, across the wealth spectrum, spending that extra couple discretionary dollars that arrive in every paycheck - or are left after expenses.

But, you say, you just complained no one saves their money for a rainy day? True. But just imagine each bank account, with 5 more dollars in it every week. Think of all that cash working to balance the asset sheets of the bank as they struggle to handle all the shrinking home assets. Just a few dollars extra to loan to the family that wants to open a restaurant, one that will employ 10 people. A few dollars extra to loan a business that needs a third truck, and will then have to hire another employee to drive it. A couple dollars to stretch the bank's operating costs one more month in order to have some room to modify a few mortgages for those that need a couple dollars room (and have been paying on schedule).

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