The American Anxiety Crisis

Comments Off on The American Anxiety Crisis
The American Anxiety Crisis

The year 2000 marked a grim historical milestone for our nation. The techno-economic cycle entered a predictable, but painfully destructive, “Transition Phase.” As economist Nicholas Eberstadt puts it, “the Great American Escalator, which had lifted successive generations of Americans to ever higher standards of living and levels of social well-being, …  broke down very badly.”1

Consider the condition of the American economy. The U.S. economy has been in the grip of deep dysfunction since the dawn of the new century. Ever since 2000, we’ve witnessed an ominous and growing divergence between three trends that should ordinarily move in tandem: wealth, output, and employment. In retrospect, it seems America’s strange new economic maladies were perfectly designed to set the stage for the “populist storm” that hit the country in 2016.

First, from the standpoint of wealth creation, the twenty-first century would seem to be off to a roaring start. By this yardstick, it looks as if Americans have never had it so good and as if the future is full of promise. Between early 2000 and late 2016, the estimated net worth of American households and nonprofit institutions more than doubled, from $44 trillion to $90 trillion.

Next, consider output. The recovery from the crash of 2008—which unleashed the worst recession since the Great Depression—has been singularly slow and weak. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), it took nearly four years for America’s gross domestic product (GDP) to re-attain its late 2007 level. At the end of 2016, total value added to the U.S. economy was just 12 percent higher than in 2007. When you consider that it would have been up 45 percent if it has just followed the 1947 to 2007 trend-line, that’s pretty disappointing.

But, this didn’t start with the Obama years. There was clearly trouble brewing in America’s macro-economy well before the 2008 crash. Between late 2000 and late 2007, per capita GDP growth averaged less than 1.5 percent per annum. That com- pares with the nation’s long-term post-war (1948 to2000) per capita growth rate of almost 2...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund