February 23, 2021

244. Economies are too scarred to bounce back quickly (preview)

The UK won’t see an end to lockdown measures until July, but after that the hope of many is that the economy will bounce back quickly. The Bank of England governor has called it a coiled spring. Many are comparing it to the roaring twenties. Part of the reason for this optimism is the argument that many people in the country have saved money during the lockdown, because they haven’t been able to spend on shopping or on overseas holidays. The household savings ratio increased significantly last year. But the figures are misleading, says Prof Steve Keen, on this week’s Debunking Economics podcast. National account figures ignore the servicing of debt, so the gap between income and consumption appears greater than it is in reality. If there was an increase in household savings you’d expect a decrease in the amount of household debt – but that’s not happening, says Steve. There’s a danger that the UK government will assume a rapid recovery, and pull back on stimulus measures that we’ll discover are needed further down the track. All because they ignored the impact of debt.

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