The power of spending
Through much of the last decade one group of people could be relied upon to keep the world's factories humming: American consumers. But suddenly Americans stopped reaching for their wallets as house prices collapsed and unemployment soared. The most recent figures indicate that the US consumer is still shy of spending - sales fell half a per cent in June.
Our North America correspondent Jonny Dymond has been to the North Eastern state of New Jersey to find out if the great American shopper is ready to hit the malls once again.
So what - if anything - can governments do to get consumers spending again? Justin Rowlatt interviews Paul Buckley, a consumer psychologist from Cardiff School of Management.
Plus - who really controls the purse strings in the family? Japan has a reputation as a male dominated society - certainly in business and politics where most top jobs are filled by men. But at home it is a different story. Mariko Oi has been delving into that most delicate of subjects - family finances.