Americans are Poorer: The United States Misery Index Rises Again

Americans are Poorer: The United States Misery Index Rises Again

Americans are Poorer: The United States Misery Index Rises Again

I frequently receive comments about the strength of the United States economy and the unfairness of perceiving things as less than stellar. Is it really the “strongest economy ever”? It’s evident that it’s far from being the “strongest economy ever.”

The United States unemployment rate has risen to 4.1%, the highest in three years, which is also significantly higher than the level seen in 2019. In June, a 70,000 increase in government jobs boosted payroll employment by 206,000. One-third of job creation is public sector jobs paid with more debt. Both the employment-to-population ratio and the labour force participation ratio are below the pre-pandemic level and immigrants account for all the labour force growth since the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Ned Davis Research.

Inflation remains persistent and citizens have lost more than 24% of their purchasing power since 2019, with a 0.6% negative real wage growth in the January 2021–June 2024 period. Real wage growth in 2024 is rising only 0.8% year-on-year.

This shows why the United States Misery Index is rising to 7.4% in June from 6.8% in January. The Misery Index, which measures unemployment and inflation, bottomed out at 68% in 2023 and has been worsening since then. Furthermore, the index is far away from the pre-pandemic level of 5.4%.

All these measures allow us to understand why Americans are negative about the economy. Despite messages of redistribution, social policies, and equality, the average citizen is poorer, and only the wealthy have been able to improve their position and navigate high rates and inflation thanks to investments in the stock market. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s important to remember. There is nothing social about increasing debt, deficit spending, and taxes.

The problem for most Americans is that it is increasingly difficult to make ends meet despite record government spending, or because of its negative impact on inflation and taxes.

There is a reason why we should be worried about rising discontent and impoverishment. The placebo effect of government spending on GDP is declining. Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 1.3 percent in the first quarter, a downward revision of 0.2 percentage points from the previous estimate and a market slowdown. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 1.4 percent in the first quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

If we look forward, Americans are going to have to choose between two options: further impoverishment with Keynesian policies or making a dramatic pro-growth turn where policy is targeted at improving disposable income, increasing investment, and strengthening productivity and real economic growth.

We know that it will be impossible to cut the current deficit with tax hikes. There is no revenue measure that will generate two trillion US dollars per year, and it is impossible to increase taxes further without punishing investment. The problem in the United States is mandatory spending, as the CBO expects outlays to reach 24.9% of GDP in 2036, while revenues will reach a record but insufficient 18%. If the Federal Reserve continues to monetize debt, Americans will suffer from the inflation impact as well as the rising cost of housing. The US dollar’s purchasing power will continue to decline. However, it is easier to create two trillion US dollars of productive GDI than to tax two additional trillion dollars per year out of the existing fiscal base.

Yes, the only solution for the United States is pro-growth, pro-business policies that defend the purchasing power of the US dollar. So-called social policies have only made everyone poorer and hurt the middle class.

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Daniel Lacalle

Global Economy Expert

Daniel Lacalle is one the most influential economists in the world. He is Chief Economist at Tressis SV, Fund Manager at Adriza International Opportunities, Member of the advisory board of the Rafael del Pino foundation, Commissioner of the Community of Madrid in London, President of Instituto Mises Hispano and Professor at IE Business School, London School of Economics, IEB and UNED. Mr. Lacalle has presented and given keynote speeches at the most prestigious forums globally including the Federal Reserve in Houston, the Heritage Foundation in Washington, London School of EconomicsFunds Society Forum in Miami, World Economic ForumForecast Summit in Peru, Mining Show in Dubai, Our Crowd in Jerusalem, Nordea Investor Summit in Oslo, and many others. Mr Lacalle has more than 24 years of experience in the energy and finance sectors, including experience in North Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He is currently a fund manager overseeing equities, bonds and commodities. He was voted Top 3 Generalist and Number 1 Pan-European Buyside Individual in Oil & Gas in Thomson Reuters’ Extel Survey in 2011, the leading survey among companies and financial institutions. He is also author of the best-selling books: “Life In The Financial Markets” (Wiley, 2014), translated to Portuguese and Spanish ; The Energy World Is Flat” (Wiley, 2014, with Diego Parrilla), translated to Portuguese and Chinese ; “Escape from the Central Bank Trap” (2017, BEP), translated to Spanish. Mr Lacalle also contributes at CNBCWorld Economic ForumEpoch TimesMises InstituteHedgeyeZero HedgeFocus Economics, Seeking Alpha, El EspañolThe Commentator, and The Wall Street Journal. He holds a PhD in Economics, CIIA financial analyst title, with a post graduate degree in IESE and a master’s degree in economic investigation (UCV).

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