What’s Stopping Robust Recovery?

Many advanced economies must still address the end of the pre-crisis growth pattern generated by excessive domestic demand. In such economies, that pattern not only typically depended on leverage; it also enlarged the non-tradable side of the economy and shrank the tradable side.

MILAN – The growth map of the global economy is relatively clear. The US is in a partial recovery, with growth at 1.5-2% and lagging employment. Europe as a whole is barely above zero growth, with large variations among countries, though with some evidence of painful re-convergence, at least in terms of nominal unit labor costs. China’s growth, meanwhile, is leveling off at 7%, with other developing countries preparing for higher interest rates.

Many advanced economies must still address the end of the pre-crisis growth pattern generated by excessive domestic demand. In such economies, that pattern not only typically depended on leverage; it also enlarged the non-tradable side of the economy and shrank the tradable side. And yet, given that the non-tradable sector is constrained by its reliance on domestic demand, recovery – if it comes – will depend on the tradable sector’s growth potential.

To realize that potential, the tradable sector has to re-expand at the margin: as a weakening currency causes imports to fall and real unit labor costs decline as nominal wages flatten out, unemployed labor and capital flow toward external markets for goods, services, and resources.

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