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Posted by: Michael Mandel on October 17
From my story this week:
The bursting of the credit bubble suggests that the U.S. and global economies have a growth problem as well as a debt problem. According to the official numbers, economic growth in the U.S. has averaged 2.7% over the past 10 years. But by BusinessWeek’s calculation, U.S. consumers have run up about $3 trillion in excess borrowing and spending over the same period—consumption that was not justified by income growth. Without that boost, which translated into new homes, cars, furniture, clothing, and the like, U.S. economic growth would have come in considerably lower. The global boom, too, was artificially fueled by out-of-control borrowing by consumers and businesses.
Can the U.S. and global economies get off the slow-growth track? Yes, but it won’t be easy. One key is that U.S. companies have to pay more attention to sustaining productivity growth and innovation at home rather than resorting to outsourcing as their main source of cost savings. That would boost wages and incomes for U.S. workers and reduce the need for the U.S. to take on huge debts to pay for foreign-made goods.
Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.