How a place like the Mall of America ends up being a winner on both sides of the economy is beyond us, but the irony is quite absurd. So ridiculous in fact, that the New York Times spent some time wandering this indoor paradise trying to figure out what the heck is happening in this crapstorm.
What they've discovered: The Mall of America (all retailers in fact) got us to where we are. And the only way out? Reward retailers with more spending. It's the perfect love-hate relationship of our time.
But the NY Times argument is essentially this: Overspending and ridiculous credit card debt was a major contributor to what we are dealing with right now. And the only way to save ourselves is to spend more to keep these retailers and job providers alive. And once we've spent ourselves into a strong economy, we need to stop spending and start saving. Ridiculous how that works, right? Take that, consumerism.
More from the NY Times:
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the problem: We are reliably informed that whatever part of the economic crisis can't be pinned on Wall Street -- or on mortgage-related financial insanity -- can be pinned on consumers who overspent. But personal consumption amounts to some 70 percent of the American economy. So if we don't spend, we don't recover. Fiscal health isn't possible until money is again sloshing into cash registers, including those at this mall and every other retailer.
In other words, shopping was part of the problem and now it's part of the cure. And once we're cured, economists report, we really need to learn how to save, which suggests that we will need to quit shopping again.
So the mall we married has become the toxic spouse we can't quit, though we really must quit, but just not any time soon. The mall, for its part, is wounded by our ambivalence and feels financially adrift.
Like any other troubled marriage, this one needs counseling. And pronto, because even a trial separation at a moment as precarious as this could get really ugly.