Paul Lachine

Het Amerikaanse luchtkasteel

NEW YORK – Terwijl het risico van een wanordelijke crisis in de eurozone alom wordt onderkend, worden de vooruitzichten voor de Amerikaanse economie over het algemeen optimistischer ingeschat. De afgelopen drie jaar luidde de consensus dat de Amerikaanse economie op de drempel zou staan van een robuust en duurzaam herstel, dat de bovengemiddelde groei zou doen terugkeren. Dat bleek een foutieve inschatting, omdat het pijnlijke proces van het in evenwicht brengen van de begroting – nadat eerst de particuliere schulden uit de hand waren gelopen, en daarna die van de staat – inhoudt dat het herstel op z'n best nog vele jaren benedengemiddeld zal blijven.

Zelfs dit jaar bleek de consensus er naast te zitten met de verwachting dat de groei zou oplopen tot boven de drie procent. Maar de groei in het eerste halfjaar lijkt op z'n best op 1,5 procent uit te komen, wat nog minder is dan de armzalige 1,7 procent van 2011. En nu, nadat ze het de eerste helft van 2012 bij het verkeerde eind hadden, herhalen velen het sprookje dat een combinatie van lagere olieprijzen, stijgende autoverkopen, zich herstellende huizenprijzen en een opleving van de Amerikaanse industrie de groei in de tweede helft van het jaar zullen aanjagen en in 2013 weer boven het gemiddelde zullen tillen.

De werkelijkheid is precies het tegenovergestelde: om diverse redenen zal de groei in de tweede helft van 2012 verder verminderen en in 2013 zelfs nog lager zijn – bijna nul. In de eerste plaats is de groei in het tweede kwartaal, na de middelmatige 1,8 procent in de periode van januari t/m maart, nog verder afgenomen, terwijl de banengroei – met een gemiddelde van 70.000 per maand – scherp is gedaald.

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