U.S. Economic Normality 1945 -2015

New Normal #1 Created by WW 2 
as U.S. industry had few competitors so  both profits and wages increased substantially for 25 years.

New #2 Oil Embargos and Japanese Competition Began Wage Stagnation

Japan's competitive manufacturing sector accelerated causing stagnate Rust Belt wages and employment. Why? Japan got lucky when gas efficient small green cars required change and U.S. manufacturing responded by protected profits with less quality improving capital investment. They also got unions to accept a two-tier wage system that minimized wage increases for new workers.  Pressure on foreign manufactures resulted in them building new U.S. plants.

New Normality #3 Philosophical Change Causes Financial Instability
1980 Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act began a return to Conservative Business Regulation caused by adverse voter reaction to increased government regulation and welfare spending. Think Great Society and lax derivative regulation.
1980's Major Investments Banks Went Public creating a need to balance client needs with equity needs. Think expansion of financial industry.
1980's Accounting Standards Declined as accountancy firms struggled to balance their commitment to high audit standards with the desire to grow their consultancy business. Think
off-balance-sheet items and Arthur Anderson Scandal.
1980's Home Equity Loans Increased Current Consumption and Lowered Savings as they replaced home improvement loans. Think many not prepared for retirement.

1983 Reverse Mortgages Approved for FHA loans. Think less retirement savings.
1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act Increased Systemic Financial Risk limited by the Glass-Steagall Great Depression Act. passed by a Republican  majority and signed by President Clinton. Think financial industry expansion. See Five Bad Bush/Clinton Policies
2004 Uptick short rule of 1938 rescinded. Think stock market gambling.
2006 FASB requirement that housing assets be mark-to-market lowered financial system collateral. Action resulted from a 1991 Government Accountability Office investigation of $160,000,000,000
savings and loan crisis bailout.
Think moral hazard. Neoliberalism Capitalism

From Financial Crisis to
Recession to Great Recession

1. 2007-8 Financial Crisis was tamed by the Federal Reserve.
2. 2008-9 Recession was tamed by monetary and fiscal policy.
3. European financial instability and world-wide austerity slowed economic recovery which added to slow secular income growth for all but the very, very, very wealthy. Think top 1/10th of one-percent.
4. Great Recession Recovery Has Varied Around The World

Understanding Balance Sheet Recessions.
1. Balance sheet recessions like The Great Depression are infrequent, severe, and long-lasting. Understanding them is necessary when judging society's efforts to manage The Great Recession like   understanding a doctor's attempt to relieve a headache requires knowing the level of difficulty. Was it a Migraine Headache?
Economist Paul Krugman feels the financial crisis ..."was one manifestation of a broader problem... associated with a "balance sheet recession." Economist Richard Koo wrote Japan's 1990- ? "Great Recession "was a "balance sheet recession."  
Was Our Great Recession a Balance Sheet Recession?
A balance sheet  recession type is caused by  high levels of private sector debt. Assets must equal liabilities plus equity. If assets values like housing collateral fall below their associated debt, equity must make up the difference or insolvency results. To regains solvency, debt must be repaid. Think 1837, 1873, 1890 & 1929 See 
Most Severe US Recessions

What Led To The Great Recession?.

1. Free Market Capitalism Lowered Regulation.

2. Innovative Expanded Investment Banking.

4. Financial and Housing Easy Money Bubbles

3. Global Trade Imbalances Built a Savings Glut Which Lowered Interest Rates

China 2012       
Germany 2012        
Saudi Arabia 2009   
Japan 2011     
Russia 2012        


Great Recession Stages from The Shifts and the Shocks by Martin Wolf
1. A more complex unstable large1 financial/credits system evolved creating extreme optimism in good times and panic in bad times. Think derivatives, securitization, credit default swaps all managed by hedge funds.
2. Emerging countries lowered borrowing and increased trade surpluses creating a savings glut after the 1997
Asian Debt Crisis made their foreign dollar dominate debt buildup unsustainable. Instead they expanded trade and kept personal consumption below economic growth. Less consumption and borrowing plus a trade surplus increased Dollars, Euros, and Yen reserves the world's spenders could borrow. Think China and Russia.
3. Aggregate demand stagnated because high income countries like German, Japan and OPEC increased trades surpluses. Germany's 2005 economic renewal was not spent and Japan's private sector saved much more after their 1990's credit bubble explosion.
Adding to these demand shortage
were companies who maintained profit by decreasing capital investment spending despite historically low interest rates. Globalization and technology also helped them maintain profit as wage increases were limited to most valuable employees. State and local governments, especially those with under funded pension systems, also cut expenditures. Think workers maintain living standards with home equity loans.

4. Increased current account deficits by wealthy countries balanced world trade. Higher demand for foreign goods was made possible by massive central bank supported low interest loans. The  FED's historic monetary expansion was made possible by continuing low inflation resulting from expanding world competition and low oil prices. Innovative financing and lax regulation also fostered demand expansion. Think excess OPEC savings caused Latin American Debt Crisis..
5. Real Estate and Stock bubbles resulted as expected from low long-term real interest rates.  New home buyers borrowed the surplus savings and investors devoured the growing unique debt securities created by an expanding finance industry that now promised insured difficult to understand almost guaranteed financial instruments. Leverage rose dramatically. Fraud, near fraud and data manipulation exploded. Few remembered the housing collapse of the Great Depression. Think Bubbles.
6. Poor Crisis Management by politicians as their economic advisors who believed market capitalism would prevent serious recessions. This view was amplified by the fifteen year Great Moderation. Few knew that new unique financial market instruments increased possible financial contagion. When it started, political, intellectual and bureaucratic leaders resisted quick action especially in areas requiring cooperation. A depression was avoided in the U.S. by FED, Treasury and Congressional efforts that were slowed by austerity. Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal experienced economic depression. See VII of The Great Recession and
Mark Blyth: After the Financial Crisis: How to Tell the Forest from the Trees 57 min. video