Overview of the US Economy Now and Moving Forward: 2011-2014
Projections for the economic conditions of the U.S. economy going forward through the years 2011 to 2014 can be characterized as being subject to slow growth, where the overall economy might actually be expanding, but not expanding by enough to bring down unemployment by any appreciable level. Growth is defined as an economy where real GDP (gross domestic product) -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and capital contained in the U.S. -- increases at an annual rate above zero percent.
At the time of the publication of these materials the U.S. economy is seen by policy makers as growing, but at a rate too slow to shake off persistent high levels of unemployment. About half of our policy makers believe that further stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and extension of benefits to the long-term unemployed is needed. The other half believe that the current level of the national debt makes this impossible. The logical and therefore most likely outcome to this situation is a political standoff where nothing much gets done, and the present conditions endure for several more years to come.
The official global governmental response to a worldwide economic slowdown mirroring the U.S. recession seems to be oriented toward debt reduction through austerity programs. This is viewed as being anti-simulative and is more likely to promote further stagnation rather than growth. The more this trend continues, the longer it will take for the global recession to end.
In the United States the consumer is responding to the recession by saving more and borrowing less. Although this helps the consumer bolster their individual balance sheets, it is again anti-simulative because the U.S. economy depends on consumer spending to drive it. One predicable result of this condition will be the likely increase in the reliance on the part of the U.S. consumer on creative measures of coping with slow growth and high unemployment. These measures will include an increase in the acceptance of barter as a way of obtaining goods and services, an increase in the use of the "crowd funding" style of social media driven consumer finance service, and finally, an increase in the acceptance of short-term consumer lending products similar to what is commonly referred to as payday loans.
As the present time these payday loans are becoming more popular even as the spread between the cost of credit between such products and bank credit products is widening. Perhaps this reflects an uptick in bank underwriting standards, a reduction in debt capacity on the part of the consumer, or both. In any case pay day loans are increasing in numbers. Although payday loans may not the cheapest way to borrow money, there can be good reasons to use one. One example of this would be the consolidation of another debt in order to preserve the borrower's credit score in front of a major refinancing such as a new home mortgage, or a tax refund check. In such a case, nobody would argue the value of being able to quickly lay their hands on some needed money on such short notice.
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