Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Economist/rock star Nouriel Roubini writes in the Globe and Mail about the two very different "recoveries" underway for the U.S. economy.
While the United States recently reported 3.5 per cent GDP growth in the third quarter, suggesting that the most severe recession since the Great Depression is over, the American economy is actually much weaker than official data suggest. In fact, official measures of GDP may grossly overstate growth in the economy, as they don't capture the fact that business sentiment among small firms is abysmal and their output is still falling sharply. Properly corrected for this, third-quarter GDP may have been 2 per cent rather than 3.5 per cent.That seems to be a common theme these days if you look past the headlines - that small businesses are not only failing to play their usual role of leading the rest of the economy out of the downturn, but they are in fact laggards in this "recovery".
The story of the U.S. is, indeed, one of two economies. There is a smaller one that is slowly recovering and a larger one that is still in a deep and persistent downturn.
Consider the following facts. While America's official unemployment rate is already 10.2 per cent, the figure jumps to a whopping 17.5 per cent when discouraged workers and partially employed workers are included. And, while data from firms suggest that job losses in the past three months were about 600,000, household surveys, which include self-employed workers and small entrepreneurs, suggest a number above two million.
Of course, the "two economies" theme is reinforced by the fact that bonuses on Wall Street are expected to be near record highs in 2009, whereas, the holiday season will surely be a much more glum affair on Main Street.