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Now U.S. is Stressed While Chinese Consumers Are 'Beacon of Hope'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When it comes to a strong, stable confident middle class, the U.S. isn't accustomed to taking a back seat to other countries, especially China.

But facts are facts, and right now, U.S. consumers, reared on the free market capitalism the Chinese once sneered at, can only wish they were as confident about their finances as the Chinese are.

The Boston Consulting Group has the goods, offering a study that consumers in China, and to a lesser extent India, increasingly believe they are in the "sweet spot" in the global economy and expect to spend about $10 trillion on products and services by 2020. That is 10 times the amount the Chinese and Indian consumers spent in 2010.

BCG cites that statistic as evidence Chinese consumers are significantly more bullish on their country's economy than are U.S. and U.K. consumers on their respective country's economies.

The report cites a "stark contrast" in current and future spending patterns between consumers in all three global hotspots. The study says 40% of Chinese consumers expect to "spend more money in the next 12 months than they did in the past 12 months."

Compare that to what U.S. and U.K. consumers expect to spend over the same time and you start to get the picture. BCG says only 9% of those consumers expect to spend more money in the next year.

U.S. consumers may balk at the conclusion, but Chinese consumers are far and away more likely to hold a sunnier view of their financial futures than their brethren in America, and in the U.K.

"Chinese consumers are a beacon of hope," says Michael J. Silverstein, a senior partner in BCG's Chicago office. "They believe they will earn more, they will spend more and their children will have a better life. They don't see a global conflict on the horizon."

"U.S. and U.K. consumers, on the other hand, remain guarded, stressed and anxious," he says. "They are suffering the consequences of four years of recession and continued talk of a 'double dip.' They read the gloomy headlines from around the world and are filled with fear."

The BCG numbers seem to bear that out. About 60% of U.S. consumers and 55% of U.K. consumers are worried about the future, the report states. But only 34% of Chinese consumers feel the same way.

Some other numbers from the BCG study:

  • 19% of Chinese respondents said they were not financially secure, compared with 51% of U.S. respondents and 42% of U.K. respondents.
  • 51% of Chinese consumers believe that there will be a full economic recovery, compared with 27% of U.S. respondents and 21% in the U.K.
  • 86% of Chinese respondents think life will improve over the next 10 years, compared with 67% of U.S. respondents.
  • 80% of Chinese think their children will have a better life than they did, compared with just 24% in the U.S. and the U.K.

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