Is The Recovery Real?
(Creators.com) -- By Paul Craig Roberts --
Happy news! The government has come up with a 5.9 percent GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2009. The recession is over.
Or is it? Statistician John Williams has informed us that 69 percent of this growth, or 4.1 percentage points, is the result of inventory accumulation. That leaves a 1.8 percent growth rate, and the 1.8 percent is likely due to the underestimate of inflation and other statistical problems.
The Federal Reserve's own monetary evidence contradicts the recovery assurances from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. The Federal Reserve continues to pour massive reserves into the banks. The monetary base, which consists of currency in circulation and bank reserves (the basis for new loans), has surged from $850 billion last year to $2.2 trillion on Feb. 24.
Despite this potential for massive new money creation, the broadest measure of money growth is still contracting. The banks are too impaired and so are consumers for the banks to create new money by making loans.
The economy, in other words, is going nowhere.
As I have emphasized for years, an economy that moves its high productivity, high value-added jobs offshore is going nowhere but down. Except for the super-rich, there has been no growth in people's incomes for a decade. To substitute for the missing income growth, consumers took on more debt. The growth in consumer debt kept the economy going. However, most consumers have now reached their maximum debt load, and millions went beyond their limit, resulting in foreclosures and lost homes.
There are no jobs to which people can be called back to work. The jobs have been given to the Chinese and Indians.
The economy is set for a “double-dip,” that is, renewed decline. This, of course, means larger federal, state, and local budget deficits. The U.S. federal deficit is now so large that it can no longer be financed by the trade surpluses of China, Japan, and OPEC.
Currently the deficit is being financed by deterioration in the Federal Reserve's balance sheet. The Fed is creating new reserves for the banks (thus the surge in the monetary base) in exchange for the banks' toxic financial instruments. The banks are using the reserves to purchase Treasury debt instead of making new loans. This makes money for the banks, but does not grow the economy or create jobs for the millions of unemployed...
Money will have to be found somewhere if the Fed is to avoid printing it. During the Clinton administration a Treasury official proposed a 15 percent capital levy on all private pensions to make up for their tax deferral status. This idea didn't fly, but today a desperate government, which has wasted $3 trillion invading countries that pose no danger to the U.S. and wasted more trillions of dollars combating a crisis brought on by the government's failure to regulate the financial sector, is likely to steal people's pensions as well as to gut Social Security and Medicare...MORE...LINK