Last week, the British Office of National Statistics (ONS) released data that revealed that quarterly growth in real GDP dropped to 0.3 per cent in the March-quarter 2017, down from 0.7 per cent in the December-quarter 2016. Household consumption growth fell in an environment of rising household debt and flat real wages. In the same week (April 28, 2017), the US Bureau of Economic Analysis released the latest National Accounts data for the US for the March-quarter 2017 – Gross Domestic Product: First Quarter 2017 (Advance Estimate). It showed that GDP grew on an annualised rate of 0.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, down from 2.1 per cent in the December-quarter 2016. The US result was driven, in part, by a dramatic slowdown in personal consumption expenditure and a negative contribution from government. The common elements linking the slowdown on both sides of the Atlantic are clear – growing and massive levels of household debt, flat growth in personal incomes (real wages etc) and inadequate fiscal support for growth. These elements, in part, were key features leading up to the GFC. Governments haven’t learned that relying on personal consumption expenditure for economic growth in an environment of flat wages growth means that household debt will rise quickly and reach unsustainable levels. How harsh the correction is unclear. The faltering the outlook in the US and the UK suggests that their national governments will need to increase their discretionary fiscal deficits to stimulate confidence among business firms and get growth back on track.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Common elements linking US and UK economic slowdowns
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia