Neoliberal Economics Has Destroyed the U.S. Economy and America’s Middle Class(Source globalresearch.ca)Today we have two economies. One is the real economy of production and consumption. The other is the financialized economy of paper wealth. The former is doing poorly, and the latter is doing well. The financialized economy is growing much faster than the real economy. Indeed, the real economy might not be growing at all. The data is completely clear. The rich are becoming much richer, and the rest are becoming poorer. Michael Hudson explains:
“The creation and trading of property and financial assets at rising prices has been fueled by rising debt levels owed to the financial sector. This sector’s returns therefore are best seen not as real wealth on the asset side of the balance sheet, but as overhead on the liabilities side. And the process is multi-layered: income accruing to the financial wealth owned by the top 10 Percent is paid mainly by the bottom 90 percent in the form of rising debt service and other returns to financial and other property.
This dynamic is destabilizing, because as more of consumers’ discretionary income is drawn off to service mortgage, credit card, automobile and student debt and for compulsory health insurance, less is left to purchase the goods and services in the real economy. Consequently, credit-driven debt grows faster than the income that services it, and this impoverishes the 90%. However, for the 10%, money creation by the Federal Reserve in order to protect the balance sheets of the “banks too big to fail or jail” drives up the values of financial assets. As a result the distribution of income and wealth becomes hightly polarized. Think about the many Americans who meet their living expenses by making only the minimum payment on their credit card balance. At 19% interest their debt grows monthly. Eventually they hit a credit card debt cap and can no longer use the card to cover their living expenses. But they have the burden of a large debt balance to service without an income stream capable of servicing it. Think about the corporation that decapitalizes itself in order to produce short to intermediate term capital gains for shareholders and executives by indebting the firm in order to buy back the firm’s shares. The end result is that all income goes for debt service. In a financialized economy, the only possible outcomes are debt forgiveness or collapse.