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Real Wages, Aggregate Demand, and the Macroeconomic Travails of the US Economy: Diagnosis and Prognosis

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  • Mark Setterfield

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College)

Abstract

This chapter argues that, while much attention has been paid to developments in the financial sector as causes of the Great Recession, the ultimate cause of the crisis was, in fact, longer term trends in the real economy. Specifically, it is argued that the tendency for real wages to grow slower than productivity since the 1970s has not only generated ever-increasing income inequality in the US, but has also led to a structural flaw in the process that creates the demand necessary for high employment and rising living standards. Although household debt accumulation postponed the “day of reckoning” associated with this structural flaw, the effect of sluggish real wage growth on the incomes of working households now has the potential to create a future of secular stagnation, not just for workers, but for the US economy as a whole.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Setterfield, 2010. "Real Wages, Aggregate Demand, and the Macroeconomic Travails of the US Economy: Diagnosis and Prognosis," Working Papers 1005, Trinity College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tri:wpaper:1005
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    File URL: http://internet2.trincoll.edu/repec/WorkingPapers2010/wp10-05.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2010
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Goda, 2013. "The role of income inequality in crisis theories and in the subprime crisis," Working Papers PKWP1305, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
    2. Yun K. Kim & Mark Setterfield & Yuan Mei, 2015. "Aggregate consumption and debt accumulation: an empirical examination of US household behaviour," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(1), pages 93-112.
    3. Thomas Goda, 2017. "A comparative review of the role of income inequality in economic crisis theories and its contribution to the financial crisis of 2007-2009," REVISTA FINANZAS Y POLÍTICA ECONÓMICA, UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE COLOMBIA, vol. 9(1), pages 151-174, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Real wage growth; productivity growth; aggregate demand; household debt; Great Recession;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions

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