Industry News

Economic bust plays on emotions

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By MARTY GRAHAM Money is closely related to people's feelings of shame and pride, and to their sense of self-worth, says behavioral economist Sara Wedeman. This crazy, roiling and flailing economy where nothing makes sense is pushing many Americans to the fight-or-flight instinct. "The more people have followed the rules and tried to meet social expectations, the more frightened they are," says Wedeman, a principal with Economic Behavioral Consulting Group in Philadelphia. "People are having to choose between blaming themselves or admitting that everything that promises us safety is out of control." In the last six months, many people have seen their retirement plans destroyed by investment losses some economists place at an average of 50 percent. Depending on where they live, their homes may have lost significant value. And 2.5 million people lost their jobs in the last four months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Calls to suicide hotli...