I hate to tell you, but the storm has reached your location and it is a Category 5 hurricane. The levees are leaking. Ignore it at your own peril. The 6,000 sq ft McMansion buying, BMW leasing, $5 Starbucks latte drinking, granite countertop upgrading, home equity borrowing days are coming to an end. The American consumer will not go without a fight. For the last seven years the American consumer has carried the weight of the world on its shoulders. This has been a heavy burden, but when you take steroids it doesn’t seem so heavy. The steroid of choice for the American consumer has been debt. We have utilized home equity loans, cash out refinancing, credit card debt, and auto loans to live above our means. It has been a fun ride, but the ride is over. We can’t get steroids from our dealer (banks) anymore.
We did not want loans; we wanted CUSTOMERS!
But government and corporations took the easy way out and printed up more fiat money rather than actually work at creating new industries and new jobs. Indeed in order to please corporate donors, the Bush administration actually handed out tax credits to make it EASIER for American corporations to transfer jobs overseas, apparently without seeing or being totally unconcerned with what this would do to the ability of the general population to manage their debt load.
So, here we are, plenty of debt, no jobs, no customers or clients (the Americans have no money and the rest of the world doesn't want to do business with the 21st Century version of the Nazis), and everyone well aware that government policy created this mess. So what does government do? Start wars. Plenty of them, apparently under the theory that a war will persuade the people to cut the government some more slack. Or maybe it's just the only thing they can think of to prolong their reign.