GDP = Consumer Spending?

So here I am, enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon while the snow falls quietly outside my window here in the Great North. Drinking a warm cup of coffee brewed by my lovely husband, while our two (now healthy) children snooze away the afternoon with a long winter’s nap.

I’m browsing CNN when I stumble across this article on gas prices rising. Again. This would not normally capture my attention except that I just had an interesting conversation about the impact of rising gas prices on the middle class last night. And also, because it’s February. It’s not even road trip season yet, and already the gas prices are rising.

(Look. I’m going to be really honest with you. I can’t do another Staycation. Even with the best of intentions, I don’t think I would make it. And I know my children would hate me for it. If I have to take up bicycling just so I can get out-of-town, I’ll do it. I’m not afraid. **starts hyperventilating**)

OK, Focus. So, I read this quote: “In general, every $1 increase in the price of oil costs consumers $1 billion over the course of a year.” Those numbers are staggering to the point of mind-boggling to me. I can’t quite wrap my mind around what $1 billion looks like, so my eyes roll back in my head and I move on to the next sentence …  “That’s concerning because consumer spending makes up the bulk of U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic growth.”

Hold on. I am not a math major. Nor am I an economist. But I do understand that gross domestic product (GDP) is the measure of revenue derived from the goods and services produced by a country. For example, if ours were the country that invented airplanes, let’s say … then it would make sense that our GDP would be driven by the production, export, and sale of airplanes. In fact, Americans have pioneered countless inventions throughout history. But do you suppose we are exporting any of these brilliant goods and services to grow our revenue, and in turn drive our GDP?

Not so much … well, perhaps a little … but it turns out that the bulk of the U.S. gross domestic product is CONSUMER SPENDING.

Are you kidding me? Our country is staying afloat because of our trips to the shopping mall?!?! I guess I didn’t realize that changing consumer behavior with this whole Minimal Challenge was going to take our country under. Not trying to start a revolution or anything …

But it seems to me that perhaps we need to rethink our revenue model, USA.


About Not-so-SuperMomma

See my previous blog at to learn about how I used to be a SuperMom ...
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3 Responses to GDP = Consumer Spending?

  1. Susan says:

    I believe the difficulty in making sense of the numbers is that much consumer spending is beyond consumer income which is why the Minimal Challenge becomes an incredible tool for empowerment.
    The situation facing many consumers, I believe, is the indoctrination that spending is good for the economy without the caveat that informed, deliberate spending is good for the economic success of businesses which support the continued prosperity of the consumer.
    Consumption itself is yeast-like in that it can falsely inflate economic statistics without actually benefiting the consumer.
    What I see in the Minimal Challenge is an encouragement to choose capital support of joint prosperity over consumption to keep the numbers pretty.
    But that’s just my thinking and I might be an idealist.

    • Thank you, Susan. That is exactly what I am aiming for … conscious, deliberate spending in the right places and for the right reasons. While at the same time raising the collective consciousness of what this thing called “consumerism” is all about …

  2. Pingback: The Sales Channel | The Minimal Challenge

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