In "The Last Call For Alcohol", I tried to provide a historical perspective via "bar parable" on the Super Size Me Era and the beginning of the contraction that begin in 1999. James Quinn from "The Burning Platform" has assembled an incredibly detailed historical summary from 1980 with much data to support. Some excerpts:
"Americans are slowly coming to the realization that unbridled greed is not the same as capitalism. Excessively low interest rates punish savers and senior citizens, while benefitting borrowers, risk takers and Wall Street. Savings leads to investment, while borrowing leads to impoverishment. The actions taken thus far by politicians, government bureaucrats, and the Federal Reserve are the exact opposite of what was required. The next leg down in this Greater Depression will thoroughly discredit those who have promoted a money culture over those virtues that will benefit society in the long run. The current Crisis will require personal sacrifice, renewed community spirit, public consensus, and truth. Failure could prove fatal for our nation. The best of human nature must win out over greed, ignorance, and love of power. Our future hangs in the balance."
"The United States has experienced a three decade long “expenditure cascade”. An expenditure cascade occurs when the rapid income growth of top earners fuels additional spending by the lower earners. The cascade begins among top earners, which encourages the middle class to spend more which, in turn, encourages the lower class to spend more. Ultimately, these expenditure cascades reduce the amount that each family saves, as there is less money available to save due to extra spending. Expenditure cascades are triggered by consumption. The consumption of the wealthy triggers increased spending in the class directly below them and the chain continues down to the bottom. This is a dangerous reaction for those at the bottom who have little disposable income originally and even less after they attempt to keep up with others spending habits. The personal savings rate was 12% in the early 1980s and declined to negative 1% by 2005. The expenditure cascade couldn’t have occurred without easy access to debt. The question that must be asked is, who benefits from debt and who pays?"
"The delusion of the American populace cannot be underestimated. Their worshipping at the altar of materialism and adoration of Hollywood created pop culture was crucial to the societal delusion. Without the corporate consumerism marketing machine, an unlimited amount of credit provided by bankers, and ultra-low interest rates supplied by the Federal Reserve, the delusions of grandeur could not have been realized."
"We have taken the acquisition of material belongings so seriously that it became what we worked for. Material possessions defined who we are. When we lose these possessions we no longer have the identity that we have blindly created by collecting “things”. My God, what have we done?"
I highly recommend that everyone read this entire article. Long, but full of important details defining where we've been and where we are.