The New Economy?

| Fri Jul. 10, 2009 2:05 PM EDT

Robert Reich says that it's consumers, not investors, who will need to lead a recovery out of our current recession:

Problem is, consumers won't start spending until they have money in their pockets and feel reasonably secure. But they don't have the money, and it's hard to see where it will come from. They can't borrow. Their homes are worth a fraction of what they were before, so say goodbye to home equity loans and refinancings.

....My prediction, then? Not a V, not a U. But an X. This economy can't get back on track because the track we were on for years — featuring flat or declining median wages, mounting consumer debt, and widening insecurity, not to mention increasing carbon in the atmosphere — simply cannot be sustained.

The X marks a brand new track — a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows. All we know is the current economy can't "recover" because it can't go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin. More on this to come.

For many years it's looked as if we were getting closer and closer to an economy in which there flatly wasn't enough unskilled work left to keep employment at normal levels.  Stagnant median wages were the canary in the coal mine, with permanently higher unemployment coming in the future.  But I dunno: maybe the future is now.

I'll write more about this later so that everyone can tell me where I'm wrong.  At least, I hope I'm wrong.  We'll see.

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