Marketplace Scratch Pad

The US and China are secretly in love

Scott Jagow Jul 28, 2009

I know, it’s crazy, right? But I have hard evidence, direct from a new study on spending habits that the US and China are destined to walk down the aisle together.

The study is called “Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction” by professors at the Wharton School of Finance and Northwestern University. Their conclusion, via Reuters:

“Surveys of married adults suggest that opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending,” Wharton’s Scott Rick and Deborah Small and Northwestern’s Eli Finkel said in the paper.

They found that people who generally spend less than they would ideally like to spend, and those who spend more than they would like to tend to marry each other.

George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, in a separate study called “Tightwads and Spendthrifts” published last year, found that the degree people feel of a “pain of paying” determines if they are a “tightwad” or a “spendthrift.”

Clearly, the US feels very little pain, while I hear China has built a Savings Mountain somewhere in the Shanxi province.

Researchers still aren’t sure why people are either savers or spenders, but they theorize that those who find it painful to spend don’t like that quality about themselves, so they’re attracted to free-spenders. And vice-versa.

This is also probably why people who get divorced tend to blame money.

At the big US-China meeting in Washington yesterday, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo whispered these sweet nothings:

“The United States will never become China, and China will never become the United States. But the living fact is that China and the United States’ interactions have never been so frequent, our interest has never been interwoven so closely, and the mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries has never been so broad, and the driving force boosting the China-U.S. relationship has never been so strong.”

Sounds like somebody’s in love…

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