The key characteristics of an economy

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George W Adair (1823 – 1899):  “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

It’s been said often that the “most successful” people are those with the greatest confidence and greatest ignorance. While I don’t subscribe to this generalisation about success, it’s important people understand that capitalist economies thrive or wither on two characteristics: confidence and consumerism.

The more confident that people are about the current state of any economy… due to job availability, security of tenure, income levels, level of debt and so on… the more they will tend to live the life they want to live or, at least, the life they perceive they want to live now. In this, they will tend to consume and consume more… of just about everything. Consumption to excess! They will spend on goods, travel, accommodation, eating out, entertainment and all the other services on which people can spend money. A small number might even spend some money on education. A small number of people… a small amount of “education”… or alleged education!

Much, if not most of it, for individual people and families will be short-term pleasure rather than longer-term gain. Ethical entrepreneurs will walk the fine line between the extremes.

Marketers rely on economic confidence to entice people to buy goods and services to be like others or exceed the rapaciousness of others in what they have and do. Too often the success of this marketing and sales effort relies heavily on impulse buying and the ignorance of most consumers.

Without confidence you will not try to undertake anything. With consumerism you need to get the balance right between short-term and longer-term benefits for yourself and family. Strive to think critically about the things you purchase so that they are not out of alignment with your vision, goals and values. Only then will you be able to celebrate successful completion of a fulfilled life for yourself and for those you love about whom you care.

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