Monday, January 31, 2011

Worst Case Scenario For US Economy

Becoming like Japan:
In 1995, Japan's economy was seven times bigger than China's. Since then, China's economy has grown a lot — it's now bigger than Japan's. And Japan's economy has actually shrunk a bit.

As its economy was shrinking, Japan's government spent like mad. So its debt is now twice as big as its GDP. There is one country in the world in worse debt shape: Zimbabwe. The highly indebted countries you keep hearing about, like Greece and Ireland, have much smaller debt burdens than Japan.

The future does not look bright. Japan's population is tilted towards older people, so they have to think about huge pension payments in the coming decades.

Investors are still lending lots of money to Japan at reasonable rates. The country does not seem on the brink of an acute fiscal emergency. At the same time, it doesn't seem likely to break out of its long term chronic economic illness.
The primary reason for this lack of growth is bad government decisions. The good news is that means this is avoidable. The bad news is we need our politicians to make good decisions. I won't be losing sleep over this, but it is a possible future for America.


  1. I would actually like your perspective on the title of your piece. Using Japan's situation as an example was fine, but there was precious little on the subject of what's in store for the U.S.

  2. I'm certainly no expert, though I don't think that matters when it comes to trying to predict the direction of history's largest economy.

    But I will give you my two cents guess since you asked.

    The economy will continue to get better and will settle about where it is at 2 or 3% increase in GDP. That means it will take a couple of years for unemployment to get back to pre-recession levels. Inflation won't be a major factor, but I do think it will increase during that same time. Those moderate times will continue until the next economic "crisis" in 30 years which I guess will be blamed on the moral hazard created in this one.

    But that was just a blind guess.

  3. Anonymous2:19 AM

    Life is good at the top. The top 1% have collected 80% of ALL income growth over the last 30 years -- and now accrued 40% of the nation's wealth. CEO compensation up 27% for 2010; the largest increase in history. Bank CEO pay up 36% to an average of $9.7 million per year. Trillions doled out to Wall Street and large corporations making record profits and paying bonuses. And the richest 400 Americans now have more wealth than half of all Americans -- while their taxes have been halved. Sales of private jets, luxury cars, multi-million dollar estates, jewelry, etc. are soaring.
    Meanwhile forty-six million Americans do NOT have enough to eat. One out of four males over the age of fifty are unemployed. One of four children living with hunger. Sixty percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Over a quarter of all Americans either unemployed or underemployed. Record numbers of veterans homeless and unemployed. One-third of home sales from foreclosure. Millions thrown into the streets by the nation's banks. Millions of our youth suffering with predatory student loans and 60% of graduates unable to work in their field. And the only choice is usury or no credit.
    Income inequality in America now ranks between Uganda and the Ivory Coast -- worse than Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia. We have the highest concentration of wealth and income in American history while most of the country is struggling. It has now reached the level of 1929 -- the height of the great depression.
    Make no mistake -- change IS coming. Americans will NOT sit idly on their hands while their families go hungry.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.