Print more money. What could possibly go wrong? There is no point in saving for a house that you can never afford.

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An economist offered an explanation for a paradox that has emerged in recent data showing that spending has remained robust even as consumers report feeling pessimistic.

Joanne Hsu, who is the director of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey, told CNBC on Friday that she thinks Americans have abandoned plans to save money as they see their financial goals look less attainable and are spending money instead.

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“This positive spending is not a reflection of some sort of internalized secret sense of confidence that consumers have,” he explained. “And instead my interpretation is that consumers see that a lot of aspirational goals that we talk about as part of the American Dream—homeownership, paying for college, paying for college for your kids, having a comfortable retirement—with high prices and high interest rates right now, those aspirational goals just feel increasingly out of reach.”

And as a result, consumers have “given up” on saving for those goals, Hsu added, noting that the still-strong labor market allows them to spend now.

The latest reading of the University of Michigan’s survey showed sentiment plunged to a six-month low of 67.4 in May from a final reading of 77.2 in April as Americans cited stubbornly high inflation and interest rates, as well as fears that unemployment could rise.

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