Will Obama’s Win Make You Spend More?

Supporters who embrace hope and optimism may take that confidence to the shopping mall.

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Last night, as thousands of people celebrated Obama’s victory and the president-elect emphasized his campaign themes of hope and unity, supporters also may have also gotten a dose of something that’s been scarce lately: Consumer confidence.

In October, at least one consumer confidence index fell to an all-time low as shoppers reigned in spending and worried about their financial futures. Analysts have widely predicted that holiday spending will be its weakest in decades.

But all of those numbers came before Obama’s win. Because people tend to spend more money when they are filled with hope, optimism, and confidence, the election outcome may suggest that consumers will soon start pulling out their credit cards like its 1999.

Back in 2001, Robert Reich -- former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton and now an economic adviser to Obama -- wrote:

Optimism also explains why we save so little and spend so much. As long as such things have been measured and compared, Americans have had the lowest rate of saving and the highest rate of personal spending of any major economy, and over the last decade, we've saved less and less and spent more and more. Our willingness to go deep into debt and keep spending is intimately related to our optimism and our deepest assumptions about future peace, stability and progress.

It raises the question: Will Obama supporters who have absorbed the optimism of his campaign take their enthusiasm to the mall?