Posted by Hari on Friday, February 05, 2016 with No comments | Labels: Austerity, inequality, jobs, leisure, pay, retailers
KJ and Fee doubt it...
SOURCE GUARDIAN: If having more no longer satisfies us, perhaps we’ve reached ‘peak stuff’
The economy pumps out goods and services, all of which create jobs and incomes. There is no value judgment in such a statement, no view of what constitutes the good life. Even to invite such a question of an economist is to risk ridicule. The task of economists – a value-free quasi-science – is to make sure that as little as possible gets in the way of turning inputs into more outputs. But around the developed world consumers seem to be losing their appetite for more. Even goods for which there once seemed insatiable demand seem to be losing their lustre. Last week, mighty Apple reported that in the last three months of 2015 global sales of the iPhone stagnated, while sales of iPads tumbled from 21m units in 2014 to 16m in the same three months of 2015. In the more prosaic parts of the economy – from cars to home furnishings – there are other warnings that demand is saturated. At a Guardian Sustainable Business debate, Steve Howard, head of Ikea’s sustainability unit, declared: “In the west, we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff… peak home furnishings.” The average western consumers’ home is bulging with all the materials and goods it needs, runs the line. Suddenly, whether more is always the answer is being questioned, not by environmental thinktanks, but by the market. Only in developing countries have consumers the capacity to want more, but as Howard accepted, for that they need buying power, which in turn rests on the global distribution of income and wealth being fairer.