Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

The Graph to Make You Wonder: Why Do Macroeconomists Bother?

with one comment

From Chris Blattman:

This is the best estimate of real income per capita in the United States since 1820.

Over these years we had violent financial crashes of various types, bank panics, piles of recessions and a huge depression, many foreign wars and one enormous domestic war, had a central bank and didn’t, were on the gold standard and weren’t, had governments topple in scandal and multiple leaders assassinated, and what did it all amount to in the medium to long run? In per-capita income terms: Nothing. The overall trend does not bend or shift. Every bad year was followed by a good year that returned us to trend.

The US average growth rate of real per capita incomes over the last 190 years has been 1.8% a year, and the same rate over the last 10 years has been…. 1.8% a year.

Stare at that graph: The Great Depression was traumatic in countless ways, but astonishingly, it’s not clear that we are any worse off today than we would be if the whole thing never occurred. Anyone who made such a claim in the 1930s would have been scoffed at, but that’s what happened.


Written by James Bailey

October 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Posted in America, Economics

One Response

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  1. […] of those using that chart, which can be vieved here, make the point that we haven’t much to worry about. We’ve had these ups and downs […]

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