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The threat of thrift

Man and woman looking at knitted jumper
Back to a new era of knitting our own jumpers?

BBC Radio 4's Analysis: The Threat of Thrift is broadcast on Thursday 5th March at 20.30 GMT and repeated on Sunday 8th March at 21.30 GMT.

As recession bites, the instinct is to run for economic cover. While governments may be spending big, individuals are much more cautious.

An old fashioned word - thrift - has been heard once again as the binge spending of recent years is followed by a painful consumer hangover.

Solitaire Townsend

The idea of a sort of conspicuous austerity is becoming very fashionable

Solitaire Townsend

So will spending more carefully or make do and mend be the new watchwords for our economic behaviour?

Can this new mood of "conspicuous austerity" really challenge a consumer culture in which thriftiness has long been seriously out of fashion?

And what about the short term costs - if everyone stops spending what will this do to our economy and society?

In the longer term, how would a world without easy credit and large mortgages affect the way we live?

In 'The Threat of Thrift' Chris Bowlby explores how the ghosts of austerity past lurk in our moral and economic debate today.

John Maynard Keynes
The best guess I can make is that when you save five shillings, you put a man out of work for a day
John Maynard Keynes

Older generations recall very well what hard times and deferred gratification mean in practice.

But for younger generations who have never known such economic threats, the idea of thrift is more threatening.

Can it ever become fashionable? Might green thinking help to make thrift attractive, or will too much talk of austerity put everyone off?


Solitaire Townsend Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Futerra

Denise Kingsmill Lawyer and Labour Peer

Peter Heslam Director of Transforming Business, Cambridge University

Anatole Kaletsky Chief Economic Commentator, The Times

Ros Altmann Independent Policy Adviser, Governor, London School of Economics

David Kynaston Author Austerity Britain

David Gaffney Author of Never Never and former debt counsellor

Paul Webley Professor of Economic Psychology, Director and Principal, School of Oriental and African Studies

Peter Selby Former Bishop of Worcester

Coming up

Are young people becoming so hooked on the web and computer games that they are unable to think, study and concentrate? Kenan Malik asks whether the rise of the digital generation should be a cause for celebration or concern.




Download or subscribe to this programme's podcast

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All set for thrift culture?
06 Mar 09 |  Magazine
The paradox of thrift
24 Nov 08 |  Business
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15 Apr 04 |  Scotland
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04 Mar 09 |  Business
Let there be light
21 Jan 09 |  Magazine

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