The venerable “investment guru” Mr. Richard Russell gave us a piece of his mind yesterday on the way economic things are going in the U.S. of A. (and it ain’t a pretty picture I can tell’ya!)

..Faye and I spent an afternoon at our largest local mall. It was an eye-opening experience. People were buying excitedly in almost every specialty store and department store we visited. I got the feeling that the buying was reaching frenzied proportions.

The whole spectacle reminded me of various past periods of crowd behavior. I’m talking about almost abnormal crowd behavior. There’s the mad Dutch era of wildly-priced tulip plants. I’ve read books about the crazy Salem period when people accused their terrified female neighbors of being “witches.” I seen films of the wild-eyed crazed look of Germans masses as Hitler drove by in his giant bullet-proof Mercedes. I was there during the insane McCarthy era when the entire nation seemed paranoid about the “Commies” that McCarthy warned about but never found. More recently, all of us can remember the insanity of tech stock-buying during the late ’90s when people begged their brokers for more and more worthless IPOs.

Now there seems to be an almost pathological desire to buy — buy $10,000 hand bags, buy $25,000 wrist watches encrusted with diamonds. Buy women’s shoes starting at $500 and going into the thousands of dollars. Every celebrity is now out with his or her own expensive perfume. Classic art is selling in the multi-millions of dollars. Gambling casinos are packed to overflow around the clock. Top of the line Bentley cars are selling at over $300,000.

But it’s not just the rich who are spending the big money. We saw the mall filled with average people, intent on buying something, almost anything. The role models today are the “celebrities.” Super markets feature six different celebrity magazines at the check-out stands. Today every young lady want to be “drop-dead gorgeous” like Britney or Lindsay or Paris. Expensive boots are “in” — even here in Southern California where the last thing a lady need are high leather boots. Designer coffee sells everywhere at $1.50 to $4.00 a paper cup, no refills. Designer sun glasses sell for over $300 a pop and are a must as are special blue jeans that can cost into the thousands of dollars.

At any rate, I really get the sense of Americans on a buying binge. Strange, and this buying phenomenon is accompanied by a below-zero savings rate. Are people losing faith in their money — would they simply prefer to have the goods? Or have Americans lost their fear of debt? Buy now and pay later — but above all, buy.

Ironically, we see economists worrying about the lack of savings in the US and the steady rise in debt. But at the same time, economists are cheering any increase in consumer spending. Which one do they want? Well, they’d like both. But why worry — there’s always massive defense spending, and an expensive war.

Speaking of the military and the US empire, we now have 460,000 military stationed in 144 foreign countries. The miracle is how the dollar has held up for this long!