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Are we there yet?

It has been four years since the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac triggered a chain of events that led to the gratest economic recession in the modern history. Seemingly unbreakable financial institutions have fallen down, like a house of cards, leaving millions on the streets. It was a scary and painful time for many. Today is 2012, but can we say that it is time to turn up the page? Have the economy recovered? Are we there yet?Annual US GDP per component

To address these questions we will compare three economic factors in the pre-crisis period and with today's. Those three factors are GDP, unemployment and stock market performance. If the economy has truly receovered, we should see a come back of those indicators to their pre-crisis levels. We will be using a year 2008 as a benchmark for pre-crisis level.

Of all the factors that were mentioned, GDP is, of course, the most important one. The picture worthes a thousand words.

Annual US GDP: total and per component

The US GDP in 2008 was $13.16 trillion, now $13.3 tr. Not only it is important that the total figure has come back to its pre-crisis level, but also that two of four GDP components have done the same. This growth is driven not, as many critics say, by the government spending, but by the personal consumption and lower trade balance deficit.

Situation with unemployment, however, does not look so great.

The unemployment rate has skyrocketed from roughly 4.5% in 2008 to nearly 10% in 2010. It has dropped back down a little bit in a following years, but still far above its 2008 level.

Finally, the stock market. Here goes the picture again.

Alghough you can see that we have not updated the highs of 2008 yet, we are now actually at the closing levels of the 2008.

So, what should we make of all this? Basically, one important conclusition. The recovery in the US is almost over. The total picture lacks only unemployment. Whether it will ever come back to the pre-crisis levels or not is difficult to say. An ongoing globalization and moving production facilities to the regions with cheaper labor is working against the US worker. 8% might well be a new 4% for a long time.
Annual US unemployment
S&P's 500