For ordinary Americans, though, it has been a different story. Real wages have been growing slowly; at just 1.6% a year on average over the latest upswing, well down on the experience of earlier decades. Business, of course, needs consumers to carry on spending in order to make money, so a way had to be found to persuade households to do their patriotic duty. The method chosen was simple. Whip up a colossal housing bubble, convince consumers that it makes sense to borrow money against the rising value of their homes to supplement their meagre real wage growth and watch the profits roll in.
As they did – for a while. Now it’s payback time and the mood could get very ugly. Americans, to put it bluntly, have been conned. They have been duped by a bunch of serpent-tongued hucksters who packed up the wagon and made it across the county line before a lynch mob could be formed.
The debate now is not about whether the US is in recession but how deep and long that recession will be. Super-bears have started to say that this is perhaps “The Big One”, by which they mean the onset of a new Great Depression. The need to rescue Bear Stearns has done little to still those voices.
America was conned – who will pay? – The Guardian