(Roughly) Daily

Shop ’til you drop…

(copyright, Norm Feuti)

Americans are saving more…  which means that they are spending less.  Earlier this year average household debt was 134% of average household disposable income.  If increased savings lowers that to, say, 100% (by way of comparison, the figure was in the 70% range in the Eighties), and the savings rate (which was essentially zero just before the bubble burst) returns to its historic (70-year) average of 9%, it will pull something like $4 trillion out of annual consumption…  that’s to say it would reduce consumption by over 20%.  And since consumption has been running over 70% of our roughly $13 Trillion GDP, that could make a dent in the trajectory of our consumer-driven society.  A pretty big dent.*

How might it accrue? Well, there’s the impact on corporate earnings and employment (in an industrial/service base already at pretty serious overcapacity…  and then there are the Dead Malls.

* for more on this phenomenon and what it might mean, this post in Jon Taplin’s blog is a good place to start…  and for a peek at what could become of malls needy of a new purpose, see this post in The Infrastructuralist.


As we cinch up our belts, we might think back to one of the driving forces that created the milieu in which malls were born and flourished: on this date in 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, landmark legislation that funded a 40,000-mile system of interstate roads that ultimately reached every American city with a population of more than 100,000. Today, almost 90% of the interstate system crosses rural areas, putting most citizens and businesses within driving distance of one another. Although Eisenhower’s rationale was martial (creating a road system on which convoys could travel more easily), the rewards were largely civilian. From the growth of trucking to the rise of suburbs, the interstate highway system re-shaped American landscapes and lives… and played a major role in creating the pre-conditions for the growth of the mall.

source: Missouri Department of Transportation

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