Wealth Isn't Helping the US Anymore
Robert Samuelson believes the recession killed the wealth effect
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jun 17, 2013 12:57 PM CDT
Americas have plenty of money under the proverbial mattress, but they ain't spending it.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Normally, when Americans' net worth goes up—say, because the value of their house or their stocks goes up—they spend more money, stimulating the economy. Economists call it the "wealth effect," and it might just have suffered an untimely death as a concept, observes Robert Samuelson at the Washington Post, because a report last year showed US wealth hitting an all-time high of $3 trillion, exceeding even financial limit heights, yet the economy is still in the doldrums. "Psychology has changed," Samuelson argues.

"Careless optimism has given way to stubborn cautiousness." The financial crisis made "people better appreciate that houses and stocks are risky assets. … They're more reluctant to borrow and spend against them, because today's gains could be tomorrow's losses." So the Fed's various efforts to boost home and stock prices aren't working. "People eager to borrow have faith in the future; people eager to repay debts worry about the future. We are prisoners to psychology." Click for Samuelson's full column.

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Showing 3 of 101 comments
heyyouyou
Jun 20, 2013 11:30 PM CDT
So who are we to thank for this ?? I got it. Oh Mr. President...... LOL...
Scott603
Jun 18, 2013 9:08 PM CDT
50% of the country controls 2.5% of the wealth. The 6 members of the Walton family have more wealth than the bottom 40% of the nation. That means 6 people have more money than 130,000,000 other people put together. Most middle class people are spending more on a smaller income. Unless the Walton family starts buying millions and millions of flat screen TV's, I don't think you are going to see a wealth effect.
orlandojonny
Jun 18, 2013 3:14 PM CDT
You don't have any wealth when you owe 17 trillion dollars...