Neoliberal Economics Destroyed the Economy and the Middle Class

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
By Paul Martin

Paul Craig Roberts
PaulCraigRoberts.org
December 16, 2019

According to official US government economic data, the US economy has been growing for 10.5 years since June of 2009. The reason that the US government can produce this false conclusion is that costs that are subtrahends from GDP are not included in the measure. Instead, many costs are counted not as subtractions from growth but as additions to growth. For example, the penalty interest on a person’s credit card balance that results when a person falls behind his payments is counted as an increase in “financial services” and as an increase in Gross Domestic Product. The economic world is stood on its head.

It is aggregate demand that drives the economy. Payments made on a rise in interest rates on credit card balances from 19% to a 29% penalty rate reduce consumers’ ability to contribute to aggregate demand by purchasing goods and the services of doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Contrary to logic, the fee is magically counted in the “financial services” category as a contributor to GDP growth. The extortion of a fee that reduces aggregate demand lowers GDP, but builds paper wealth in the financial services sector.

GDP growth is also artificially inflated by counting as GDP abstract concepts that do not produce income streams. For example, for homeowners the US Department of Commerce estimates the rental values of owner-occupied housing, that is, the amount owners would be paying if they rented instead of owned their homes, and counts this imputed rent as GDP.

These and other absurdities have caused economist Michael Hudson to conclude correctly that the “financial reality of how the U.S. economy works is no longer captured in GDP statistics.”

Asset-Price Inflation and Rent Seeking

Today we have two economies. One is the real economy of production and consumption. The other is the financialized economy of paper wealth. The former is doing poorly, and the latter is doing well. The financialized economy is growing much faster than the real economy. Indeed, the real economy might not be growing at all.

Michael Hudson describes the difference. The stock market is at all time highs that have created massive wealth in financial assets for stock and bond owners. In the real economy the situation is totally different: “The Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 reports that 39% of Americans do not have $400 cash available for a medical or other emergency, and that a quarter of adults skipped medical care in 2018 because they could not afford it ( https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2018-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201905.pdf ). The latest estimates by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that nearly half (48 percent) of households headed by someone 55 and older lack any retirement savings or pension benefits ( https://www.aarp.org/retirement/retirement-savings/info-2019/no-retirement-money-saved.html ). Even in what the press calls an economic boom, most Americans feel stressed and many are chronically angry and worried. According to a 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association, financial worry is the “number one cause of stress in America today” ( https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/02/money-stress ).

The Rest…HERE

Comments are closed.

Join the revolution in 2018. Revolution Radio is 100% volunteer ran. Any contributions are greatly appreciated. God bless!

Follow us on Twitter