Eine Zahl sagt alles

NEW HAVEN – Die Zahl lautet 0,2 %. Sie bezeichnet das jährliche Durchschnittswachstum der US-Verbraucherausgaben der letzten 14 Quartale – inflationsbereinigt zwischen dem ersten Quartal 2008 bis zum zweiten Quartal 2011. Noch nie seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg war die Kaufkraft der amerikanischen Verbraucher so schwach. In dieser einen Zahl steckt viel von dem, was heute in der US-Wirtschaft – und in der globalen Wirtschaft – schief läuft.

An dieser Periode beispielloser Verbraucherschwäche in den USA lassen sich deutlich zwei Phasen erkennen. Vom ersten Quartal 2008 bis zum zweiten Quartal 2009 ist die Nachfrage in sechs aufeinander folgenden Quartalen um jährlich 2,2 Prozent gefallen. Die Kontraktion war naturgemäß am stärksten während der schlimmsten Periode der Großen Krise, als der Verbrauch im dritten und vierten Quartal 2008 um 4,5 Prozent einbrach.

Als die US-Wirtschaft Mitte 2009 die Talsohle erreichte, gingen die Verbraucher in eine zweite Phase – eine sehr gedämpfte Erholung. Der reale Jahresverbrauch wuchs über die folgenden acht Quartale vom dritten Quartal 2009 bis zum zweiten Quartal 2011 um durchschnittlich 2,1 Prozent. Das ist die kraftloseste Verbrauchererholung seit Beginn der Aufzeichnungen – ganze 1,5 Prozentpunkte langsamer als der durchschnittliche Vorkrisentrend von 3,6 Prozent aus den zwölf Jahren zwischen 1996 und 2007.

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