Setting up New Year Resolution is a good habit. At the year's end or the start of the New Year, people will set up their resolutions. The media is habitually doing a national survey on Americans' New Year resolutions. According to Statista, the top eight resolutions for this year are; exercise more (52%), eat healthier (50%), lose weight (40%), save more money (39%), more time with family/friends (37%), less time on social media (20%), reduce stress on job (19%), and reduce living expenses (19%). According to YouGov America, the top American resolutions are as follows: Improving physical health, Saving more money, eating healthier, exercising more, being happy, losing weight, paying down debt, learning something new, improving mental health, more time with family, relationship with friends, reading more, focusing on the spiritual matter, traveling, quitting a bad habit, spending time with friends, pursuing a new career goal, pursuing a new hobby, getting a new job, and moving. The latter list contains the first list which supports the validity of these surveys. However, these lists, compared with previous years’ surveys, also verify that Americans are concerned with health, exercise, and overeating year after year. This makes one wonder whether New Year Resolution is useful or just a lip service. Perhaps the surveyors should add a few pertinent questions: What resolutions selected are new this year and what resolutions have been repeated from previous New Year Resolutions and why? If a survey could help people more consciously fulfill their resolutions, the survey result would be more meaningful. Realizing a resolution requires willpower and discipline, surveyors should develop the survey with questions helpful to people to achieve their resolutions.
A financial goal is another domain often appearing in New Year Resolutions. Financially more successful people generally set their financial goals in their New Year Resolutions. This resolution serves as the motivation factor for a career goal, including an entrepreneur objective and business venture. However, this year’s Motley Fool Survey of New Year Resolutions seems to have found a negative focus - paying off debt and reducing expenses appeared prominently in the New Year Resolution list. One clear correlation with the economy revealed by the survey is the inflation fear which may have shifted people’s minds from positive and aggressive thoughts such as creating wealth to reducing expenses and paying off debt. Motley Fool, a financial and investment consulting firm, published a discussion paper on its ‘survey’, perhaps less broadly based than the above two surveys, but it might have touched on the nerve point of this year’s Americans’ New Year Resolutions. This author would like to comment on Motley Fool’s survey and the discussion paper written by Jack Caparol, an analyst with Motley Fool, with the hope that this article might help people understand the true reason behind pessimism and better realize their New Year Resolutions. The title of Jack Caparol’s article is “81% of Americans with Financial New Year Resolutions See Inflation as a Spoiler”. It highlighted the following key findings in addition to the alarming title: I. 66% of Americans plan on making a financial resolution for the new year, II. 81% think inflation will make it harder to meet their goals III. Only 20% are confident that they will keep their upcoming financial New Year's resolutions, IV. Top New Year's resolution: Paying off debt is the goal of 53% of Americans with financial resolutions, and V. Generational divide: Resolution goals differ by Generation, older generations are more concerned about paying off debt and saving for retirement whereas younger generations are more interested in saving for big purchases and investment.
Motley Fool’s key findings are not surprising, in fact, they can be expected. What is interesting in these stats is what we have alluded to above; Americans are pessimistic, and their New Year Resolutions on financial goals shifted to a negative focus. This finding deserves our attention. The U.S. being the superpower of the world offers positive American dreams to Americans and worldwide immigrants coming to America. Yet, this survey made across from baby boomers (born 1946 - 1964) to generation X (born 1965-1980), Y (born 1981-1994, also known as Millennials), and Z (born 1995-2009) showed a very pessimistic outlook not only for the new year, 2023, but also beyond since financial goals as resolution are long-term endeavors. Most Americans are in debt and the U.S. government is not only heavily in debt, but its operation must be sustained by Congress repeatedly raising the U.S. national debt ceiling every budget cycle. This debt burden is a stress for every American for those having a substantial personal debt (interest burden) and even for those without a personal debt (inflation fear). Only 20% of Americans are confident that they will keep their upcoming (financial) New Year's resolution, meaning four out of five will likely abandon their financial goal as New Year's Resolution. Some people like to say that the flood of undocumented immigrants at the U.S. - Mexico border as evidence of American Dream being alive and well, but the U.S. needs better educated and skilled knowledge workers to sustain its economy and to compete with rapidly rising countries. Instead of letting a sound economic policy lead the direction of foreign policies, the U.S. government is stubbornly adhering to its legacy political doctrine - squash competition to maintain its dominance. But time has changed, the world economy is no longer dominated by the U.S. economy. Developing nations can drive their economic growth through hard work and fair trade. China, India and Brazil are just the visible examples, many other nations are eager to emulate the successful Model.
Stick to its legacy political doctrine - no one else has a better political system than the U.S.; the U.S. places this political principle as the foundation of its foreign policy well above its domestic policies. Hence, the U.S. economy is dictated by its foreign political objectives. The Trump Administration and Biden Administrations more so have let ‘the targeting China’ policy dictate U.S. trade policy with China. The tariffs and sanctions obviously hurt China and the U.S. in trade and economy. The ever-expanding technology sanctions against China also damage U.S. firms by losing the China market and a vibrant global environment for mutual stimulation. The more sanctions applied to Huawei, the faster it reinvented itself. The more semiconductor sanctions are applied to China, the more independent its industries become. BYD is emerging as the world's number one electric car manufacturer. This U.S. anti-China economic measure is based on the hypothesis that exporting technology products to China will threaten U.S. security. Hence, it warrants sacrificing the U.S. economy. However, this belief in ‘China Threat’ is just like the belief in ‘China Collapse’, a blind faith with no evidential proof. For the past five decades, all predictions of China will collapse are proven false. The ‘China Threat’ theory could not be proven as well since China had never initiated any aggression other than defending its sovereignty and right to develop. Through international political observers' eyes, we see China making progress on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a program for cooperative development. The international community has gradually leaned toward China resisting the U.S.-led anti-China strategy polarizing the world, hoping to collapse China. This author cannot help but make a connection between Americans’ pessimistic New Year's Resolution and the above political analysis, which is the fundamental cause for Americans’ pessimism.
Inflation is the spoiler for New Year Resolutions. Some New Year Resolutions are too expensive to keep and are easily observable. But the real reason for Americans to become pessimistic is that they are deprived of the opportunity to compete freely. The U.S. is rich in resources, oil and gas, huge fertile land for agriculture and an advanced technology base. Why must the U.S. rely on military industries to dominate its national development plan? With more pressure and military spending ($850B), the U.S. cannot stop Russia or China from developing their own defense. China’s progress in space technology should have awakened the U.S. national security planners, it’s time to return to the principle of fair competition, mutual restrain and win-win cooperation which have made the U.S. the superpower it is today. Let Americans compete freely, collaborate with China for mutual benefits and give Americans optimism not pessimism, after all the U.S. winning track record was built on optimism, confidence and the American dream. The current U.S.- China policy is suffocating Americans with pessimism and giving China adrenaline to accelerate its development. For 2023 the world is expecting China to have a GDP growth of 4.5% whereas only 0.5% for the U.S. Low growth breeds pessimism and pessimism leads to low growth. It does not take a genius to figure out what the future is waiting for if the U.S. insists on its current China policy!
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.