We’re told that this is the greatest economy in history. Stock markets are surging. Unemployment is low. And yet despite the good times, a shocking number of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
Several surveys cited by MarketWatch reveal the precarious financial situation many Americans find themselves in. This is less than ideal in an economy dependent on consumer spending.
Do deficits even matter?
They used to — at least in conservative circles. And even in some progressive circles when Republicans were in control of Washington D.C. But today, the federal government is running record deficits and has pushed the national debt over $22 trillion and virtually nobody even bats an eye.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, John Yarmuth, chair of the House Budget Committee summed up the attitude toward the spending and debt in Washington D.C. He said he rarely hears from constituents concerned about rising deficits and debt. Many voters’ attitudes, he says:“There haven’t been any cataclysmic consequences, so why worry about it?”
In a podcast earlier this month, Peter Schiff talked about the “twin deficits” of national debt and trade. We’ve talked a lot about the federal debt spiral, and there has even been some discussion about it in the mainstream. But almost nobody is paying attention to the growing trade deficit. Peter is an exception. When the August numbers came out earlier this month, Peter noted it was the largest trade deficit in merchandise since the summer of 2008. And what happened right after the summer of 2008? The collapse of 2008.
The reason the trade deficit got that big is before the collapse, we had a bubble. We had a consumer debt binge where all the cheap money that was being created was feeding imports because Americans were taking their incomes, or their cheap money, and buying imported products. And so the big trade deficit was evidence of the bubble. And of course, the big trade deficits in and of themselves are unstainable.”
Antonius Aquinas has also taken note of the trade deficit. In the following article, he points out that tariffs aren’t going to make America Great Again. We need savings and investment, not a trade war.
Apparently, the American consumer has bought into the notion that everything is great in the economy. Consumer confidence surged to an 18-year high this month and is close to the all-time record.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 138.4, up from 134.7. Analysts expected a dip.
It’s time to get real. This grand economy everybody keeps telling us about is actually a house of cards built out of cheap money and debt. And it won’t take much to blow it over.
A recent article by Reuters reveals just how precarious the so-called economic recovery really is. According to the report, the bottom 60% of American income-earners accounted for most of the rise in spending over the past two years even as their finances worsened. The data shows that the rise in median expenditures has outpaced before-tax income for the lower 40% of earners in the five years to mid-2017. In other words, poor and middle-class Americans are driving the US economy by spending more than they earn.
Do you dream of retirement? Sitting on a beach sipping cocktails? Leisurely afternoon rounds of golf? Spending hours playing with grandchildren?
Well, for a lot of Americans, that retirement dream may turn into a nightmare. Instead of reclining poolside, they may find themselves greeting customers at Walmart.
According to data recently released by Northwestern Mutual, one-third of Americans have less than $5,000 in retirement savings.
Americans are spending money, but it appears they are dipping into their savings to do it.
According to data released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, savings last month fell to a level not seen since 2007. The 3.1% rate in September was the lowest since it dipped to 3.0% in December 2007.
In his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff reminded us of what was going on in late 2007.
The following article by Frank Shostak was originally published at the Mises Wire.
Does it make sense that by means of more inflation the US economy could be pulled out of the liquidity trap?
Some economists such as a Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman are of the view that if the US were to fall into liquidity trap the US central bank should aggressively pump money and aggressively lower interest rates in order to lift the rate of inflation. This Krugman holds will pull the economy from the liquidity trap and will set the platform for an economic prosperity. In his New York Times article of January 11, 2012, he wrote: