Economics

I'm OK, You're OK (and We're Both US Consumers)

Psychologist Thomas Harris wrote a book called I'm OK, You're OK in 1976 explaining his theory on how we perceive ourselves and others.

Psychologist Thomas Harris wrote a book called I'm OK, You're OK in 1976 explaining his theory on how we perceive ourselves and others. Most of the time we either think of ourselves as "Not OK" and the rest of the world as "OK," or we see ourselves as "OK" and the rest of the world as "Not OK." In both cases we have anxiety—centered on either ourselves or on the world outside ourselves. This is a natural psychological proclivity. But does it make sense economically?

Think about your personal economic standing for a moment. Are you better off today than 5 or 10 years ago? How about your family? Your friends and neighbors? Things are pretty much OK in most cases, aren't they? Yet, we continue our worries about the strength of the US consumer in spite of evidence to the contrary. A lot of people feel "Not OK" about it despite the fact they, and most people they know, are doing quite well. Consider the following:

• Personal income rose 0.4% in August to $11.1 trillion, up 9.4% from a year ago.
• Real disposable income is up 5.4% from a year ago.
• Wages and salaries is $6.1 trillion, up 7.7% from a year ago.
• Personal consumption is up 6.0% from a year ago.
• Savings is $1.7 trillion, up 32.6% from a year ago.

So, if you're OK, and I'm OK, and the US Consumer is OK…then who's in trouble?

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