Gennaro Zezza: Fiscal and Debt Policies for Sustainable U.S. Growth

New paper by Gennaro Zezza

From the abstract:
In our interpretation, the Great Recession which started in the United States in 2007, and propagated to the rest of the world, was the inevitable outcome of a growth trajectory based on fragile pillars. The concentration of income and wealth, which started rising in the 1980s, along with the stagnation in real wages made it more difficult for the middle class to defend its standard of living, relative to the top decile of the income distribution. This process increased the demand for credit from the household sector, while deregulation of financial markets increased the supply, and the U.S. economy experienced a long period of debt-fueled growth, which broke down first in 2001 with a stock market crash, but at the time fiscal and monetary policy managed to sustain the economy, but without addressing the fundamentals problem, so that private (and foreign) debt kept increasing up to 2006, when a more serious recession started. At present, the long period of low household spending, along with personal bankruptcies, has been effective in reducing private debt relative to income, and, given that the problems we highlight have not been properly addressed yet, growth could start again on the same fragile basis as in the 1990-2006 period. In this paper, adopting the stock-flow consistent approach pioneered by Wynne Godley, we stress the need for fiscal policy to play an active role in (1) modifying the post-tax distribution of income, which along with new regulations of financial markets should reduce the risk of private debt getting out of control again; (2) stimulate environment-friendly investment and technological progress; (3) take action to reduce the U.S. external imbalance, and (4) provide stimulus for sufficient employment growth.
Read the rest here.

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