Monday, March 09, 2009

Looking after the pennies

This week's Analysis on Radio Four has more pertinent things to say about the current malaise than any number of Robert Peston reports. It's titled, a little lumpily, "The Threat Of Thrift" and it wonders whether we are likely to meet hard times as my parents (or your grandparents) might have done or whether we need to have things put in a new context. It exposes the way that governments from both wings spent like sailors while claiming to practise the housekeeping of the corner shop and the manse. It has interesting things to say about how cheap credit took the waiting out of wanting and in the process changed us as people. That's the big question to me. What are the chances of deferred gratification making a comeback?


  1. Over the last two days I've heard of three people here in Spain - one of them unemployed - who've just bought new cars with interest-free loans backed up by no collateral at all.

    Stimulation, they call it, apparently. But if that's the sort of hanky-panky that got us into this God-awful mess, isn't it unlikely to be the most effective way to get us out of it?

  2. "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly"
    T. Paine
    Not sure even old Tom would have an answer to this problem.

  3. I think we'll see a lot of thrift, and it's probably not particularly good news.

    People like myself who have not (yet) seen a reduction in income, are nonetheless hearing doom and gloom on the news, and tightening our belts. That means less of our money goes to shops, restaurants etc., which is bad news for those businesses, their staff, their suppliers.

    The real answer is fewer people. But try as I might I can't think of a humane way to achieve that in the short term.

    I'm contributing in a small way by not having kids :D