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Real Sector Imbalances and the Great Recession


  • Mark Setterfield

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College)


While much attention has been focused on the financial woes of the US economy in the wake of the Great Recession, this chapter focuses on an important real sector imbalance: the failure of real wages to keep pace with productivity growth over the past three decades. This imbalance is shown to create a structural flaw in the aggregate demand generating process that threatens to undermine future macroeconomic performance. The chapter reflects on the policy responses necessary to remedy this situation, and the likelihood that the US will succeed in avoiding a future of secular stagnation.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Setterfield, 2012. "Real Sector Imbalances and the Great Recession," Working Papers 1201, Trinity College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tri:wpaper:1201

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Edward Wolff & Ajit Zacharias, 2009. "Household wealth and the measurement of economic well-being in the United States," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(2), pages 83-115, June.
    8. Cynamon Barry Z. & Fazzari Steven M., 2008. "Household Debt in the Consumer Age: Source of Growth--Risk of Collapse," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-32, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yun K. Kim & Mark Setterfield & Yuan Mei, 2014. "A theory of aggregate consumption," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 11(1), pages 31-49, April.

    More about this item


    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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