Friday, February 19, 2016

COTW: The Charts of Our Discontent

Only the pundits are surprised by the ferocity of the anti-establishment sentiment in both parties and driving the presidential campaigns of two very different populists. These charts explain it all:

The middle class is being squeezed, hard. Pew Research tells us that 57 of Americans think their incomes are falling behind the growing cost of living. That's up from 47% in 2006. The percentage who think of themselves as "middle class" has fallen to 44% from 53% in 2008. The fact is that since 1973 when productivity slowed, wages have decoupled from economic growth--thus it has been "downhill since Nixon".

This last chart from Doug Short shows two measures of inflation. PCE is used to adjust GDP for inflation, so the chart shows the PCE has systematically overstated the amount of real GDP growth by understating inflation growth. If GDP were adjusted using the CPI, which is itself manipulated, GDP growth would actually be negative.  A symptom of a contracting economy--despite huge amounts of stimulus poured in by the government--is a collapsing home ownership rate, especially among prime age home buyers.