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What’s driving the economy?

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Commentators about the economy talk about deficits and debt, taxes, government spending, election uncertainty and concerns about Europe and Asia as factors in determining the direction of our economy. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden considers whether anything is being left out.

“Well these are certainly all important … , but I would argue that probably the factor that you didn’t mention — and many people don’t focus on — is really you and me, consumers. If you look at our economy, consumers control 70 percent of all spending in our economy. They also hold half of the nation’s wealth. So I think you can make a good argument as the consumer goes, so goes the economy.

“Now clearly if consumers have been challenged in the last few years with unemployment, with high debts, with falling wealth, we’re beginning to make improvement on all of those, but we’re certainly not totally back.

“But I would argue if you want to know what’s happening to the economy now and where the economy is going, you need to look at what consumers are doing — how much they’re spending, do they have jobs, and what’s happening to their wealth.”

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