GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS: The reality of American ‘recovery’

When is a recovery not a recovery? When it produces a social dustbowl

Bloomberg noted this morning EST that ‘Manufacturing in the U.S. probably expanded in December at the fastest pace in six months, remaining at the forefront of the expansion entering 2012’.

“Manufacturing is still progressing at a nice pace,” said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit.

“After a fairly miserable first half of the year, the economy grew by 2% in the third quarter and is likely to accelerate to more than 3% growth in the final quarter of 2011,” commented A.R. Choudhury, adding, “there are a number of signs that recent momentum could carry into next year — job openings are on the rise, the unemployment rate is trending down and corporate profits relative to GDP are at their highest level in over six decades.”

All three of these pundits were in agreement about fingering the eurozone mess should things not continue to ‘improve’ in 2012. This view – and the accusation that banking foul-ups are all down to the lack of UK regulation – are (as I’ve said before) America’s stock excuses for being too expensive, too banker dependent, behind the Asian curve, and wallowing deep in debt and anti-social cash-rich US multinationals.

But not one of them pointed to the socio-cultural damage that continues to worsen. They continue to leave this awkward issue – human lives – out of the equation, because unconsciously such folks see us as the horse, and the fat guys as the wagon. Wrong: business is the horse that pulls a democratic and liberal democracy, in which full citizen participation – both political and economic – is supposed eventually to lead to our triumph over the Putins, Assads, Kim Sung-uns, Ahmadinnejhads and other assorted authoritarian nutters around the globe.

So if you don’t mind – and here there’s a big thank you to Ilene writing at Zero Hedge for this first list of stats – I’ll  fill in some of the human interest side of this story.

* Only 23 percent of American companies plan to hire more employees in 2012. Only 55.3 percent of all Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 have jobs. In the US, there are 240 million working age people.  Only about 140 million of them are working.

* The median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.

* Since 1971, consumer debt in the US has increased by 1700%.

* More than one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

* The wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined. As I have blogged many times, the entire Reaganomic assertion about trickle-down wealth is undiluted, unutterable bollocks.

The disgrace these numbers represent for the Land of the Free and Opportunity is compounded by the degree of political dishonesty shown by Washington’s reporting methods: if the number of Americans considered to be “looking for work” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent. If inflation was measured the exact same way that it was measured back in 1980, the rate of inflation in the United States would be well over 10 percent.

Digging around further, some of the evidence of just how hopelessly the current economic model caters for US citizens beggars belief. A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed. Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  In July 2011, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job. According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent. The median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%. One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

There are, literally, hundreds of sites producing these figures, and all are linked to the source. They can’t all be lying….but the neocons and bankers are – every last one of them. Only by lying 24/7 can they justify the obscenity of their greedy, sociopathic behaviour.

Of the Republican presidential hopefuls about to get an answer from Iowa’s voters, only Ron Paul is being honest about how the US has been hijacked by a deadly combination of piggy bankers and spineless politicians, over 40% of whom receive electoral support from big business and banking.

Obama is, in my view, the worst of the lot. He has let down the cause of black advancement in the most cynical, braindead manner. Since Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased by 14.3 million. The worst excesses of bank bailout took place on his watch. And once Blankfein had threatened him with a funds drought for the Democratic Party, Barack Obama became the ultimate Jim Crow.

The Occupy Movement isn’t the answer – of that I’m sure – but I will say this to all Sloggers asking me to stick out my chin with all kinds of 2012 predictions: once the fire is lit in the States, there will be no putting it out. If just one more presidential election after this coming one throws up yet another dummy working on behalf of the 1%, martial law will become the norm in the US….and not long after that, it’ll either be a headless revolutionary anarchy or a vicious commercial dictatorship.

There’s been some frankly pretty damned irritating criticism of my ‘narrative’ in today’s comment thread at The Slog. If you want to know why I’m a radical realist telling the truth as it is, and begging those in charge to get real, then this piece should be all the answer you need. Neither Right nor Left either here or across the Pond has the answer: the Right pretends it doesn’t exist while arguing about the dance-steps of angels on a pinhead; and the Left invents gender imbalances and various other isms as their pathetic replacement for a lack of creative or efficacious ideas.

Standing on the touchline waving a flag every time a tackle goes over the ball is no longer good enough. It’s time to start doing something from here on: so if you come here to nit-pick, expect me to get less and less tolerant. We are – all of us – faced by deadly enemies from Wall Street and Brussels to Beijing and Tehran. But trust me, no tank in history ever got stopped by telling the driver he was exceeding the speed-limit.

Related: Why the UK cannot employ anywhere near enough of us on this economic model

                  Why ‘economic stimulation’ is not the inspiration capitalism needs