Monday, April 12, 2010

The future of the American economy - higher inflation, economic contraction

America’s economic geography will change too. Cheap petrol and ample credit encouraged millions of Americans to flock to southern states and to distant suburbs (“exurbs”) in search of big houses with lots of land. Now the housing bust has tied them to homes they cannot sell. Population growth in the suburbs has slowed. For the present the rise of knowledge-intensive global industries favours centres rich in infrastructure and specialised skills. Some are traditional urban cores such as New York and some are suburban edge cities that offer jobs along with affordable houses and short commutes.

SHOOT: These changes won't happen without much gnashing of teeth.
clipped from

STEVE HILTON remembers months of despair after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Customers rushed to the sales offices of Meritage Homes, the property firm Mr Hilton runs, not to buy houses but to cancel contracts they had already signed. “I thought for a moment the world was coming to an end,” he recalls.

Instead, America’s economy will undergo one of its biggest transformations in decades. This macroeconomic shift from debt and consumption to saving and exports will bring microeconomic changes too: different lifestyles, and different jobs in different places. This special report will describe that transformation, and explain why it will be tricky.

The crisis and then the recession put an abrupt end to the old economic model. Despite a small rebound recently, house prices have fallen by 29% and share prices by a similar amount since their peak. Households’ wealth has shrunk by $12 trillion, or 18%, since 2007.
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