The Federal Reserve cut its growth forecast for the second half of 2012 and 2013 last week, raising concerns yet again about the potential for a "double-dip" recession. While some, notably the cycle watchers at ECRI, believe the U.S. economy is definitely heading for another recession (or already there), Gluskin Sheff's chief economist and strategist David Rosenberg goes a big step further.
"We are living in a modern-day depression," he declares.
This dramatic statement is based on several factors, including the record number of Americans living on Food Stamps — 46 million or 1-in-7 in 2011. Because these benefits are now given in the form of electronic debit cards, we don't have bread lines like in the 1930s, but they are there in virtual form. And that's just the most obvious form of government support for its struggling citizenry. (See: Marion Nestle on The (Big) Business of Food Stamps: "Here's Where the Profits Come In")
"Government transfers to the personal sector now makes up nearly one-fifth of total household income," Rosenberg writes. "Even Lyndon Johnson, architect of the 'Great Society', would blush at that."