Ben Bernanke has the answer. It is all your fault.
Then he said something new: Consumers are depressed beyond reason or expectation.
Oh, sure, there are reasons to be depressed, and the Fed chairman rattled them off: “The persistently high level of unemployment, slow gains in wages for those who remain employed, falling house prices, and debt burdens that remain high.”
However, Mr. Bernanke continued, “Even taking into account the many financial pressures that they face, households seem exceptionally cautious.”
Consumers, in other words, are behaving as if the economy is even worse than it actually is.
Economic models based on historic patterns of unemployment, wages, debt and housing prices suggest that people should be spending more money. Instead, just as corporations are sitting on their money, households are holding back, too.
In a speech on Friday, Bernanke blamed consumers for not buying enough stuff. Speaking as someone who just threw a whole $47.87 into the local economy at Goodwill, I know he wasn’t speaking to me – I’m stimulating my butt off. But he was speaking to you – you are definitely to blame.
Reports suggest that in his next speech, on Thursday, Bernanke will zero in on who is exactly at fault, naming the names of Americans who have not been spending enough. Inside reports note that several regular readers of this blog will be called out publicly including Edson, Michelle, Anna, Stephen and Risa. Bernanke will demand that all named Americans immediately rush out and drop at least $100 at Target and/or Starbucks or be publically flogged. This, of course, seems only fair – don’t you know how important the US economy is? Are you actually putting your own well-being ahead of the rest of us? Selfish, selfish, selfish.