Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Cost of Government vs. Prosperity

Interesting numbers here.

...According to NBER, there have been 33 business cycles in the United States since 1854. On average over that period, recessions have lasted 17.5 months and expansions have lasted 38.7 months. Since World War II, the recessions have tended to be shorter — lasting an average of 11.1 months — and the expansions longer — lasting an average of 58.4 months.

The last three expansions have been particularly long — running 92 months (from November 1982 to July 1990), 120 months (from March 1991 to March 2001) and 73 months (from November 2001 to December 2007).


But the post-World War II era has also seen some short-lived expansions. The recession that ended in November 1970, for example, led quickly into another that began in November 1973 — leaving only 36 months of economic expansion in between. The recession that ended in July 1980, when Jimmy Carter was still president, gave way to an expansion of only 12 months, with a new recession beginning in July 1981.

That recession ended in November 1982 with President Ronald Reagan's income tax cuts starting to take effect — which led to nearly eight years of economic expansion.

If Obama's expansion were to last as long as the post-World War II average of 58.4 months, the next recession would hit in about 21 months — or in the spring of 2014

(If you call this an "expansion," of course.  YMMV on that matter. Technically, it is an expansion.  Not much comfort if you're in foreclosure, or have been semi-employed for the last few years, or are eating cat food, etc.)

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Fed is not optimisic about the next few years.

...Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday he thought it grew even slower in the second quarter.

The Fed, he told the committee, expects GDP to grow 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent this year and 2.2 percent to 2.8 percent next year.

"These forecasts are lower than those we made in January, reflecting the generally disappointing tone of the recent incoming data," Bernanke said in written testimony.

Bernanke predicted the unemployment rate would still be "7 percent or higher" by the end of 2014 — or, in other words, past the time when the average post-World War II expansion would have given way to a new recession.

Let's not blame everything on Obozo for the sake of the larger question:  what has been the effect of the constantly-growing Cost of Gummint since WWII?  (C.O.G. includes regulatory cost, not just taxes.)  Has that cost drained marginal free-cashflow from both businesses and consumers which drainage has now finally resulted in <2.0% growth cycles?  After all, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obozo have not been shy about adding regulatory burdens and new Federal departments; and Fed regs have forced States and locals to increase their taxes and/or regs & regulators, too.  (We could add that reg-costs have reduced the number of small business-competitors to larger, better-connected firms who effectively write regulations for their OWN benefit--thus reducing price competition.)

Arguing over which straw broke the camel's back is no longer productive.  Demanding that several bales of lead-weight hay be removed--by whatever means--is urgent and necessary.


J. Strupp said...

Keep in mind that this country had no problem growing at around 3%+ GDP average from 1945 to 1980. Average GDP growth rates began to erode when we restructured our economy to emphasize financial engineering and that sector doubled it's share of our economy. And the last 3 lengthy growth cycles? The first one ended in the S&L bust, the next one ended in the stock market bust and the most recent growth cycle ended in the real estate bust.

In short, we had plenty of gummint regulation (and taxes) between 1945 and 1980. It's when we financialized (weaponized) our economy via DEregulation, that Gilded Age debt bubbles, income inequality and slower growth became our new reality.

I think that we can both agree that we need to BUILD things in this country again and spend less time trading assets to one another?

Dad29 said...

To your last question, yes.

However, you choose to ignore the GROWTH of reg-cost from 1980 ffd., and concentrate on the Bankster ripoff.

False choice, my friend.

J. Strupp said...

I didn't ignore it. I just think reg-cost is dwarfed by the real problem.