U.S. Economy: A Permanent Change?

by: Michael Panzner

It's been said that people don't change. However, history and experience suggest that if they are prevented from doing something for a sufficient period of time, or are penalized enough times for acting or thinking a certain way, then they will alter their behavior -- and even their perspective.

Of course, it's hard to figure out just what is "enough" -- what it takes to engender such a transformation, whether it involves one individual or an entire society.

Some might wonder, for instance, whether the traumatic circumstances of the past two-and-a-half years, which have been as severe as anything we have experienced since the Great Depression, have been enough to force a broad enough cross-section of Americans to abandon the free-spending ways of the past.

Based on the following Los Angeles Times report, "Being Frugal is Back in Fashion," some might say the answer is "yes."

Hit hard by job losses, strapped with debt or just plain weary of shopping for shopping's sake, millions of Americans are changing their free-spending ways.

Ask Juli Thurston how things have changed from her spendthrift past and she's likely to point to a thick silver ring that she bought from Tiffany's (NYSE:TIF) for $175.

She recently put it up for sale on EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). In today's economy, something less flashy will do just fine, thank you.

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