The main topic of this blog is addressing America’s two biggest problems which are:
- Slow economic growth, averaging 2.1% since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, and
- Massive public (on which we pay interest) debt, now 74% of GDP and growing, the highest it has been since right after WWII.
In a recent post, “Is America’s Middle Class Really Shrinking?” I showed that middle-income households did very well from 1971 – 2001, while our economy was growing on average at a rate of 3.5% per year. Middle-income households then stood still from 2001 – 2008, and have lost ground since.
A vivid example of what has happened in the last 15 years is provided in the article, “My Secret Shame” in the current issue of the Atlantic magazine. The author describes his own financial hardships supplemented with pertinent data from several sources:
- In 2013, 47% of Americans responded to a survey that they would have great difficulty coming up with $400 to handle an emergency.
- The inflation-adjusted net worth of a typical (median level) household in 2003 was $87,992. By 2013 it had declined to $54,500, a 38% drop.
- A family headed by someone of prime working age, between 24 and 55 years old, and with an income of $50,000, could continue to self-fund its current consumption, if the family were to lose its current income, presuming the liquidation of all financial assets except home equity, for only six days!
As this data clearly shows, many Americans are in a precarious financial situation! The solution to this very serious problem is to speed up the growth of the American economy. I have discussed how to do this over and over again in previous posts, i.e. here and here.
It is both surprising and disturbing that the presidential candidates are either ignoring this problem or making unserious proposals for how to solve it.