By Rex Nutting | MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Everyone knows America has too much debt. What they don’t know is that things are getting better, not worse.
Little by little, our economy is reducing its debt burden, slowly repairing the damage caused by 10, 20 or 30 years of excess.
If you want to know why economic growth has been so tepid, here’s your answer. Four years after the storm hit, the economy is still deleveraging. And it’s very hard for any economy to grow when everyone is focused on increasing their savings.
Total domestic — public and private — debt as a share of the economy has declined for 12 quarters in a row after surging over the previous decade.
The rapid rise in federal debt over the past four years has distracted us from the big picture. The level of public debt is indeed worrisome, but it’s not as big a worry as the economy’s total level of debt — public and private.
Although we have a whole cottage industry devoted to warning us about the dangers of too much public debt, we don’t have any comparable Cassandras telling us about the dangers of too much private debt. Yet the history of the past 30 years (or 300) clearly shows that too much debt, of whatever variety, can pose a systemic risk to the national and global economies.
As much as we hear politicians, pundits, tea-party patriots and the Congressional Budget Office obsessing about government debt, it was excessive private debt — not public debt — that caused the 2008 financial meltdown. And it was private debt — some of it since transferred to the public — that lies behind the current European debt crisis. (Greece is unique in having a public sector that ran up spending while its private sector is rather conservative.)
As the political rhetoric about the federal deficit has heated up, we’ve lost sight of the progress that’s been made in bringing total debt back under control. The U.S. is actually doing much better than you’d think if you just listened to the conventional fears about how we’re rushing headlong into a debt Armageddon.
Recession = correction.
This makes total sense. Formerly freewheeling spenders like me are saving as are many of my middle class friends and their families. Now if we can just get the government to get their fiscal house in order......... But noooooo, the "visible hand" of the statists insist on spending more to "stimulate".