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The recession and consumer behaviour

Since 1990, household debt has risen from around 80 per cent of income to around 130 per cent. So household finances were badly stretched leading up to the middle of 2008. There has been very little change in ratio of total household net worth from post-war to 1990. But after 1990, there was a significant increase in household wealth in proportion to disposable income, i.e., we have more money to spend, and products cost less. This is then coupled with the fact that economy has been more stable since 1985, than in prior postwar recessions – recessions have been less frequent and also shorter and smaller. As our wealth has increased, we have saved less, because we don’t feel the need to save for a rainy day (because we believe that we will always have money). The optimism bias tells us that if times are good, we assume that times will continue to be good.

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Consumer Action commissioned Dr Paul Harrison, Deakin Business School, Deakin University and Marta Massi, School of Marketing and Communication, Lumsa University (Rome), to study the psychological aspects of one form of credit marketing - unsolicited credit card limit-increase offers (UCCLIOs).

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