The Black Hole in America’s GDP

The massive downturn in the US economy will last longer and be more damaging than previous recessions, because it is driven by an unprecedented loss of household wealth. While the fiscal stimulus package will boost activity in the short term, those who expect a sustained recovery to begin in the second half of 2009 are almost certainly overly optimistic.

CAMBRIDGE – The massive downturn in American’s economy will last longer and be more damaging than previous recessions, because it is driven by an unprecedented loss of household wealth. Although the fiscal stimulus package that President Obama recently signed will give a temporary boost to activity sometime this summer, the common forecast that a sustained recovery will begin in the second half of 2009 will almost certainly prove to be overly optimistic.

Previous recessions were often characterized by excess inventory accumulation and overinvestment in business equipment. The economy could bounce back as those excesses were absorbed over time, making room for new investment. Those recoveries were also helped by interest rate reductions by the central bank.

This time, however, the fall in share prices and in home values has destroyed more than $12 trillion of household wealth in the United States, an amount equal to more than 75% of GDP. Previous reactions to declines in household wealth indicate that such a fall will cut consumer spending by about $500 billion every year until wealth is restored. While a higher household saving rate will help to rebuild wealth, it would take more than a decade of relatively high saving rates to restore what was lost.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/IyTS3aH;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.