Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
FED Balance Sheet Current State - 5th Mar 21
The Global Vaccine Race Against Time and Variants - 5th Mar 21
US Treasury Yields Rally May Trigger A Crazy Ivan Event (Again) In Stock Market - 5th Mar 21
After Gold’s Slide, What Happens to Miners? - 5th Mar 21
Racism Pandemic Why UK Black and Asians NOT Getting Vaccinated - NHS Covid-19 BAME - 5th Mar 21
Get Ready for Inflation Mega-trend to Surge 2021 - 4th Mar 21
Stocks, Gold – Rebound or Dead Cat Bounce? - 4th Mar 21
The Top Technologies That Are Transforming the Casino Industry - 4th Mar 21
How to Get RICH Crypto Mining Bitcoin, Ethereum With NiceHash - 4th Mar 21
Coronavirus Pandemic Vaccines Indicator Current State - 3rd Mar 21
AI Tech Stocks Investing 2021 Buy Ratings, Levels and Valuations Explained - 3rd Mar 21
Stock Market Bull Trend in Jeopardy - 3rd Mar 21
New Global Reserve Currency? - 3rd Mar 21
Gold To Monetary Base Ratio Says No Hyperinflation - 3rd Mar 21
US Fed Grilled about Its Unsound Currency, Digital Currency Schemes - 3rd Mar 21
The Case Against Inflation - 3rd Mar 21
How to Start Crypto Mining Bitcoins, Ethereum with Your Desktop PC, Laptop with NiceHash - 3rd Mar 21
AI Tech Stocks Investing Portfolio Buying Levels and Valuations 2021 Explained - 2nd Mar 21
There’s A “Chip” Shortage: And TSMC Holds All The Cards - 2nd Mar 21
Why now might be a good time to buy gold and gold juniors - 2nd Mar 21
Silver Is Close To Something Big - 2nd Mar 21
Bitcoin: Let's Put 2 Heart-Pounding Price Drops into Perspective - 2nd Mar 21
Gold Stocks Spring Rally 2021 - 2nd Mar 21
US Housing Market Trend Forecast 2021 - 2nd Mar 21
Covid-19 Vaccinations US House Prices Trend Indicator 2021 - 2nd Mar 21
How blockchain technology will change the online casino - 2nd Mar 21
How Much PC RAM Memory is Good in 2021, 16gb, 32gb or 64gb? - 2nd Mar 21
US Housing Market House Prices Momentum Analysis - 26th Feb 21
FOMC Minutes Disappoint Gold Bulls - 26th Feb 21
Kiss of Life for Gold - 26th Feb 21
Congress May Increase The Moral Hazard Building In The Stock Market - 26th Feb 21
The “Oil Of The Future” Is Set To Soar In 2021 - 26th Feb 21
The Everything Stock Market Rally Continues - 25th Feb 21
Vaccine inequality: A new beginning or another missed opportunity? - 25th Feb 21
What's Next Move For Silver, Gold? Follow US Treasuries and Commodities To Find Out - 25th Feb 21
Warren Buffett Buys a Copper Stock! - 25th Feb 21
Work From Home Inflationary US House Prices BOOM! - 25th Feb 21
Man Takes First Steps Towards Colonising Mars - Nasa Perseverance Rover in Jezero Crater - 25th Feb 21
Musk, Bezos And Cook Are Rushing To Lock In New Lithium Supply - 25th Feb 21
US Debt and Yield Curve (Spread between 2 year and 10 year US bonds) - 24th Feb 21
Should You Buy a Landrover Discovery Sport in 2021? - 24th Feb 21
US Housing Market 2021 and the Inflation Mega-trend - QE4EVER! - 24th Feb 21
M&A Most Commonly Used Software - 24th Feb 21
Is More Stock Market Correction Needed? - 24th Feb 21
VUZE XR Camera 180 3D VR Example Footage Video Image quality - 24th Feb 21
How to Protect Your Positions From A Stock Market Sell-Off Using Options - 24th Feb 21
Why Isn’t Retail Demand for Silver Pushing Up Prices? - 24th Feb 21
2 Stocks That Could Win Big In The Trillion Dollar Battery War - 24th Feb 21
US Economic Trends - GDP, Inflation and Unemployment Impact on House Prices 2021 - 23rd Feb 21
Why the Sky Is Not Falling in Precious Metals - 23rd Feb 21
7 Things Every Businessman Should Know - 23rd Feb 21
For Stocks, has the “Rational Bubble” Popped? - 23rd Feb 21
Will Biden Overheat the Economy and Gold? - 23rd Feb 21
Precious Metals Under Seige? - 23rd Feb 21
US House Prices Trend Forecast Review - 23rd Feb 21
Lithium Prices Soar As Tesla, Apple And Google Fight For Supply - 23rd Feb 21
Stock Markets Discounting Post Covid Economic Boom - 22nd Feb 21
Economics Is Why Vaccination Is So Hard - 22nd Feb 21
Pivotal Session In Stocks Bull Bear Battle - 22nd Feb 21
Gold’s Downtrend: Is This Just the Beginning? - 22nd Feb 21
The Most Exciting Commodities Play Of 2021? - 22nd Feb 21
How to Test NEW and Used GPU, and Benchmark to Make sure it is Working Properly - 22nd Feb 21
US House Prices Vaccinations Indicator - 21st Feb 21
S&P 500 Correction – No Need to Hold Onto Your Hat - 21st Feb 21
Gold Setting Up Major Bottom So Could We See A Breakout Rally Begin Soon? - 21st Feb 21
Owning Real Assets Amid Surreal Financial Markets - 21st Feb 21
Great Investment Ideas For 2021 - 21st Feb 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

What Really Brought Us out of the Great Depression?

Economics / Recession 2008 - 2010 Jul 15, 2009 - 11:29 AM GMT

By: Justice_Litle

Economics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleDoes “stimulus” really work? Does quantitative easing work? The historical record suggests not. So what brought us out of the Great Depression? The answer might surprise, even though it shouldn’t...

A grumpy President Obama says that the $787 billion dollar stimulus package “has worked as intended.”


The President’s man at the Treasury, Tim Geithner, is also towing the party line. On Friday Turbo Timmy spoke of “substantial improvements” in trying to beat back the “worst recession globally we’ve seen in generations.”

Why the defensive posturing? Because the White House is feeling touchy and irritable as the polling numbers sink. The rotten jobs market, it seems, has cut into Mr. Obama’s popularity. A poll of Ohio voters showed approval numbers falling from 62% to 49% in a mere two-month span.

If the stimulus is “working,” then, heaven forbid how things might look had there been no stimulus at all.

Or hold on, wait a minute. How might things have looked really and truly with no stimulus? What would have been different?

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

This is one of the challenges in dealing with a very sick patient (i.e. the U.S. economy). Sometimes the patient gets better all by himself. Other times, the medicine that is supposed to be helping actually makes things worse. Without the proper diagnostic tools, though, there’s often no way to tell.

And not all deeply ill patients die, of course. Some really do make a self-powered comeback. Shamans and faith healers often rely on this simple binary outcome to set up a “heads I win/tails you lose” type deal for themselves.

That is to say, if the sick patient gets better, then clearly it was the shaman’s powerful medicine that made it happen.

But there are other alternatives, each tailored to the situation at hand. If the patient fails to get better but still lives, then the shaman can take credit for keeping him from death’s door. And if the patient up and dies, well... then the shaman was called in too late. Or the family members did not have enough faith. Or there was a hidden mortal sin, or some other exculpatory thing.

That’s the trouble with big decisions and messy historical turning points. There’s no way to rewind the tape, so we can’t always be sure what helped or what hurt – or even which actions were justified in the first place.

The weight of history does suggest at least one thing. When it comes to intervention, the government’s track record isn’t so hot. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, it stinks. And when you think about it, the logic as to why is fairly straightforward.

Take the whiz-bang idea of creating jobs, for example. Creating jobs – real, sustainable productive jobs – is no easy task. Just ask any hard-working entrepreneur. So why should the government be any good at it?

And if the government possessed half a clue when it comes to creating jobs, why wouldn’t that capability be rolled out in good times as well as bad? If the jobs genie is all he’s cracked up to be, why wait for history’s darkest hour to rub the magic lamp?

Quantitative Wheezing

And then there is quantitative easing, or QE for short. What does the historical record say about quantitative easing? Basically two things. “Japan tried it... didn’t work.”

Hugh Hendry, co-founder of London-based Electica Asset Management, had this to say about QE in a recent Financial Times interview:

...There is no precedent, no precedent, that says quantitative easing succeeds. None. I’ll give you one actually, there is one, because there was some quantitative easing exercised by the Federal Reserve in 1933-34, and it did initiate a dramatic economic recovery without inflation. But I hesitate to say that was actually a success of quantitative easing, because it was preceded by a 46% collapse in nominal GDP.

So perhaps if you’re telling me that nominal GDP will collapse by 46% next year, then I would believe, and I would come back to you and I’d say then quantitative easing might have a chance in succeeding.

For the record, U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) was an estimated $14 trillion to $15 trillion in 2008. A nominal 46% collapse would nearly cut that in half, taking us back to 1996 levels. The Dow was around 5,000 back then.

So What’s Worked Before?

This leads to an important question. What can history teach us about getting out of jams? The last economic jam we faced of comparable size and scope was the Great Depression. How did we beat it once and for all?

There are many different theories as to how America finally beat the Great Depression. Some give credit for the comeback to FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and his far-reaching policies. Others say no, FDR really didn’t help much at all (or even made things worse) – it was World War II that finally pulled us out. And still others say, simply, that “time heals all wounds,” even economic ones, and we simply had to slog our way through.

History rarely obliges historians by providing neat, packaged answers. Most sea-change type events have many factors involved, not just one. But still, your humble editor suggests there is one very powerful, yet generally overlooked element that brought us out of the Great Depression. That element was consumer savings.

Here is a statistic that will make you blink. According to journalist-historian William Greider, personal savings levels hit a whopping 25 percent of income in 1943 and 1944.

World War II played a clear role. As Greider writes, “with so many millions conscripted for war, unemployment vanished and scarcity became the problem.” Those who were not drawn into the WWII effort saw their income levels rise. Women saw as much demand as men, a new development for the times. And because the country was on a war footing, a sort of forced saving effort was in place. Families had to make do on an “austerity budget,” and wound up banking much of what they earned.

This huge build-up of savings – 25 cents out of every dollar earned – set the stage for an explosion of consumption in the years to follow. After the war, an era of new products came rushing in. And consumers had both the pent-up savings and pent-up desire to spend, spend, spend.

A Long, Long Road

So what does history have to say about our current predicament? Mainly that, when it comes to getting an economy back on track, there is little that the government can do (case in point Japan).

And secondly that, short of starting a new World War and railroading the nation into a forced austerity program, the country’s best hope probably resides in the U.S. consumer getting his fiscal house in order.

As Tom Petty once sang about love, “it’s a long long road.” That lone dip on the chart above shows where consumer savings rates actually went below zero at the height of the bubble. The impressively tall bar on the far right – representing one of the fastest savings upswings in more than a decade – tops out at just 4%.

U.S. consumers will probably never again save twenty-five cents out of every earnings dollar. There is too much financial innovation and benign leverage built into the system to dial back the clock that far. (And a little bit of leverage, like the kind that lets a young couple make affordable car payments, is a good thing.)

But could the consumer once again save at double-digit savings rates, as we saw not 20 years ago? Could the savings rate more than double from here, even as a hefty chunk of income goes towards paying off a serious overhang of debt? Absolutely.

And that’s why the U.S. economy is never, ever going back to “the way it was” – if by “the way it was” one means the gross runaway excesses of the past two decades. There will be new mistakes, new insanity, new

By Justice Litle
http://www.taipanpublishinggroup.com/

Copyright © 2009, Taipan Publishing Group

Justice Litle is editorial director for Taipan Publishing Group. He is also a regular contributor to Taipan Daily, a free investing and trading e-letter, and editor of Taipan's Safe Haven Investor, which helps guide readers to new global investment frontiers and safe harbors.

Justice_Litle Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules