Advanced Malaise

NEW YORK – Economics is often called the dismal science, and for the last half-decade it has come by its reputation honestly in the advanced economies. Unfortunately, the year ahead will bring little relief.

Real (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP in France, Greece, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States is lower today than before the Great Recession hit. Indeed, Greece’s per capita GDP has shrunk nearly 25% since 2008.

There are a few exceptions: After more than two decades, Japan’s economy appears to be turning a corner under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government; but, with a legacy of deflation stretching back to the 1990’s, it will be a long road back. And Germany’s real per capita GDP was higher in 2012 than it was in 2007 – though an increase of 3.9% in five years is not much to boast about.

Elsewhere, though, things really are dismal: unemployment in the eurozone remains stubbornly high and the long-term unemployment rate in the US still far exceeds its pre-recession levels.