Panel Discussions

Is Thrift Good for America?

A Conversation with Sheldon Garon, Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University and James Livingston, Professor of History at Rutgers University, held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Moderated by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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Historians JAMES LIVINGSTON (author of Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment and Your Soul.) and SHELDON GARON (author of Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves) take opposing views on the need for thrift in America today. Ever since the economist John Maynard Keynes famously contended that thrift was good for individuals but bad for the economy, scholars have argued over savings policy and its role in the national economy. This debate has fresh relevance today as Americans struggle to get out of debt and as the nation struggles to speed its sluggish economic recovery. The conversation between Livingtson and Garon challenges our thinking about our own saving and spending behavior and about the institutions that shape our behavior.

This conversation was part of the Summer Institute on Thrift Education at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and was recorded on August 1, 2012.

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