Friday, September 19, 2008
James Dean once put it pithily. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today”. Britain’s consumers have been behaving in a way that JD would like. They have been out there spending away like billy-o. Saving for tomorrow is largely out; expenditure for today is in. For example, on some measures, borrowing through extra mortgages and remortgaging is at all-time highs. I worry about this. A natural question is: could the remarkable debt levels in Britain lead bit-by-bit to a serious economic crash? It is impossible to say for sure. But I think the answer is yes. It is sensible to face the possibility that the decade might bring a nasty economic downturn caused by a domino-like spiral in confidence.