Armstrong Economics Blog/Economics Re-Posted Feb 1, 2023 by Martin Armstrong
Fox Business is reporting that economic conditions are much worse than you are being told. Unfortunately, this is the conclusion when you have ZERO understanding of the historical trends and economic conditions. It is true that the shortages of COVID have caused prices to rise faster than economic growth and most incomes. Therefore, they conclude that our standard of living has been rapidly declining. The number reveals that more than one-third of all U.S. young adults are being supported in part by their parents. Thanks to COVID, this disrupted society far greater than anyone is reporting. In addition to the shortages because of the lockdowns, by the end of 2020, more than half of young adults in America were living with one or both parents. That statistic actually exceeded the record high of the Great Depression.
Here is the worst part of this analysis. Many are jumping on the bandwagon claiming that the decline in real disposable income has been the largest since 1932 and therefore, this is a warning sign of a Great Depression is coming. They seem to be focused on the fact that the GDP report showed a significant decline in real disposable income, which fell over $1 trillion in 2022. Now let’s look closer!
First of all, the entire reason why unemployment rise to 25% during the latter part of the Great Depression was the Dust Bowl. Why? At that time, about 40% of the civil workforce was still agrarian. The Dust Bowl meant job loss. If you could not even plant crops, there was no need for people to pick crops.
Service during the Great Depression accounted for 17% of the workforce compared to 44%+ today. Government, federal, state, and local, was 22% of the civil workforce during the Great Depression compared to 33% by 1980. Things have continued to evolve and by 2019, services represent 79.41%. Agriculture is now a tiny fraction of what it once was – 1.41%.
In the USA, at the state level, their share of the civil workforce varies greatly. Florida is at about 11.3% compared to New Mexico which is 22.5% – a government employee’s paradise. The lowest is Michigan at 10.1%.
During the Great Depression, the entire reason for the collapse in disposable income was the collapse in agriculture which created a collapse in income due to massive unemployment. That is totally different from the crisis we have today.
Here we have rising prices due to shortages and then central banks raising interest rates in a fool’s quest to stop inflation when it is not based on speculation. Moreover, the biggest borrower is the government, and rising interest rates will only increase their exposure to keep rolling over the debt. Therefore, governments have been borrowing year after year. What happens when the public no longer buys their debt? Real disposable income has been collapsing for completely different reasons since 1932. Here we have the costs of everything rising and then these people want war with Russia and China. Every war since the start of recorded history has resulted in inflation. Add to this, the total insanity of trying to end climate change by outlawing fossil fuels at a time when the climate is prone to getting colder.
We are already witnessing riots around the world BECAUSE of inflation. During the Great Depression, people were suffering from DEFLATION. So comparing just that statistic of a decline in personal income and projecting we now face a Great Depression, does not even qualify to be classified as analysis. That is no different from someone warning that carrots must be lethal because everyone who has ever eaten a carrot has obviously died.