We Shopped Till We Dropped

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This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
What do we do for an encore?

Now that Wall Street investors have lost several trillion dollars. And the recession is beginning in earnest. Americans have to ask themselves how exactly the economy recovers.

Until recently as much as 70 percent of the U.S. economy has come from consumer spending.

Consumer spending, which is not all that different from discretionary spending, in other words buying stuff, that in the final analysis is, just not all that necessary.

In the last thirty years Americans have gone from a country of savers to a country of spenders and debtors.

Back in the 1970's Americans were saving about 10 percent of their income. Last year that number was 1 percent.

An economy based on buying stuff that isn't essential with money consumers don't really have was an economy that would eventually collapse.

We have shopped till we dropped. And I don't think anyone really knows how we get back up again.