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February 8, 2008
Our stimulus checks are coming, but surveys suggest that most of us won’t spend them, says Daniel Gross in Slate. If that’s true, “the stimulus will be less than stimulating.” Luckily for the economy, though, most respondents are probably lying. A large majority of Americans had said they would save or invest their tax rebates before the 2001 stimulus, too, but a study of post-rebate spending “discovered that Americans were either lying to pollsters or simply unable to control themselves.” That’s “the good news.” But there’s bad news, too: if the 2001 stimulus is any guide, its 2008 successor “may not deliver the immediate jolt that we hope it will.”
The middle-class boom
The world’s middle class is growing fast, says Moises Naim in the Los Angeles Times. “This is, of course, good news,” but there’s a price. As the number of middle class consumers rises, “we are all paying more for bread, milk, and chocolate.” The same is true of energy and other commodities. China and India, plus Turkey, Brazil, and other booming nations, will see huge increases in consumer demand in the next decade. There will be fewer goods to go around, and technology may not come “to the rescue” this time. Ready or not, the global middle class is coming. For those of us already there, “it won’t be cheap. And it won’t be quiet.”
of The Week magazine.