Friday, March 1, 2013

The State of the Real Economy

For all of its terrible consequences, lawless capitalism has not destroyed the US economy which is a testament to the fundamental strength, character, and resilience of the American people.

Let's start with productivity. The US is the third most productive economy on earth in terms of GDP per capita. In terms of output per hour worked today's American worker is five times more productive than in 1945. In fact, since 1995 America has seen an above trend productivity surge as evidenced below:

FRED Graph

Indeed, American workers are the envy of the world in terms of productivity growth:

Similarly, the US was recently ranked the 7th most innovative nation in the world by Insead business school.  The US ranks third in the world in patents per capita behind only Japan and South Korea.

According to the OECD the US worker ranks 9th in the world in daily minutes of actual work. As recently as 1997, the US worked more hours per capita than any other nation.

We as a nation face serious economic challenges. First and foremost, we failed to deleverage after the crash of 2008 (by, for example, letting all the excessively leveraged banks fail which would have permitted them to discharge massive debts) and now live in an economy addicted to unsustainable debt (which bond guru Bill Gross terms a credit supernova).

Second, due largely to our failed efforts to revive our economy (because mainly we just pumped massive liquidity into the megabanks which they hoard), our employment participation is still stagnant.

Third, in the wake of the crisis too many Americans took shelter in disability and other forms of government aid which is also unsustainable. More Americans need to return to work.

Finally, unfunded liabilities in terms of entitlements have soared (up to $100 trillion) as growth and employment contracted. As I have argued before we must reform entitlements and gradually raise taxes to the historic norm of 18% of GDP. If there are freeloaders in America today it is clearly the same economic elite that crashed capitalism in 2008, which now refuses to impose a rational tax burden upon themselves:




  1. "The Republicans do not care about the budget deficit or the national debt, they only care about their precious Bush Tax Cuts." -- Steven Ramirez

    You live in a world where the Obama administration is adding more than a TRILLION dollars a year to the national debt; where the Democrat Party hasn't produced a budget in almost 4 years - even though they are required to produce one by law - and you write this nonsense?

    The Democrats controlled the entire government after the 2008 elections. They could have repealed the Bush tax cuts and there would have been nothing that the Republicans could have done about it. What did they do? Nothing. What's more, they've recently agreed to make 90+ percent of those cuts permanent with the result that the government will take in near record revenue this year despite a weak economy.

    As for entitlements, not only did they not reform entitlements, they added a widely unpopular and grossly expensive one -- Obamacare. This monstrosity has and will make healthcare more expensive and our fiscal situation much worse.

    Time to wake up.

  2. Che,I do not wish to insult you, but your repetition of rhetoric without proper analysis is banal and I do believe that you could contribute more to a discussion on the matter rather than dancing on party issues. I applaud you for clearly following a blog which generally goes against your views, and I encourage that whether anyone is left or right oriented. This forum is here to debate and please bring different viewpoints to the table, debating is part of learning and understanding these things. I think you may enjoy this book:

  3. "Third, in the wake of the crisis too many Americans took shelter in disability and other forms of government aid which is also unsustainable. More Americans need to return to work." As an unemployed 50+ who was laid off 1 1/2 years ago, I can tell you that jobs are less out there for older workers. I have been to jobs where there was no one over the age of 32 and they were not happy seeing me (an older person). One lady I met recently said she got let go at a temp job but she wasn't alone. Everyone over 30 was let go and everyone under 30 was kept - regardless of how they did their job. Corporations in the 2000's admited that, for every 5 chinses or those in india that were lifted out of poverty, 1 american would be put into poverty. It's a side-effect of globalization and the realization that there isn't enough wealth for everyone. Between homeless on the streets or government dependency, I'll go with government since corporations has declared this war against me.