Economic data indicates that there are three phases of economic weakness. The third will most likely affect the U.S.
In the fall of 2008, I wanted to add my own personalized rating to the mix of letters that characterized the course of the world economy. At the time, experts spoke of V, U, L and W ratings of upcoming economic development. The last letter is called “double U” in English. Therefore, it immediately lends itself to label what I see as a “triple U”: An economy with three broad economic valleys in rapid succession. With that term, I want to describe the complex and overlapping long-term factors of such an economy and show that I do not consider a rapid and sweeping recovery probable.
Because of strong counter-measures in monetary policy and internationally coordinated Keynesian budget stimulus, the world economy recovered from the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers and the consequent financial crisis almost as quickly as it first plunged into the crisis. The economic course, by going up and down, formed an almost perfect V. Therefore, I did not propagate my theory of the triple U.
Now, at the end of 2011, a new worldwide slowdown is discernible, primarily as a consequence of the intensified government debt crisis and the repeated outbreak of banking crises. This crisis is being played out primarily in countries under the Euro, although there are no convincing reasons for it, because the government debt in many other countries is similarly high or higher.
In this situation, I would like to repeat what I called a plausible economic course in 2008. The first slowdown was a consequence of the shock after the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy; the recovery arrived as a consequence of the coordinated implementation of Keynesian policy. The second slowdown occurred because the bank bailout did not bring about reorganization and it induced high government debt, which led to a restrictive fiscal policy in Europe. The recovery of 2012 will for the most part be attributed to the same continued dynamics in emerging countries and new drug administration in the U.S. to improve the employment rate before upcoming the presidential election. Everyone knows the validity of the catchphrase, “It’s the economy, stupid!” That is, if the U.S. president does not lower the unemployment rate, he will be voted out of office.
But it is already clear that the effectiveness of lower taxes and stimulatory financial policy is abating. Disappointment is set and one thing is certain: The development of U.S. debts has Italian proportions and the government deficit exceeds all European deficits and other high numbers. In 2012, it will constitute a double digit percentage of the U.S. national product for the fourth consecutive year. With that, lower ratings by ratings agencies and the loss of international investors in U.S. bonds are to be expected. If this continues to threaten the U.S., the new Congress and the new/old president will not be able to avoid adopting a new fiscal paradigm. Economizing will be an unavoidable motto in the U.S. With higher interest rates in capital markets, the U. S. economy will be driven into the third slowdown with the world economy in tow.
Therefore, the triple U!