Why the next U.S. recession could be worse than the last

For all the optimism surrounding low unemployment rates and record-high real median income, there are some signs that something is rotten in the US economy. This isn’t wholly surprising – economic health tends to be cyclical, and the US is due for a recession. But when the next recession comes, there’s reason to believe it won’t be business as usual. The structural problems that led to the 2008 financial crisis haven’t been fixed. If anything, they’ve gotten worse…

Household debt in the United States is now almost $13 trillion. That figure exceeds total household debt at any point during or in the recovery period after the 2008 financial crisis…Put simply, American consumers are beginning to spend beyond their means…

For the past 40 years in the US, the rich have been getting richer, the poor have been getting poorer, and the middle class has been disappearing. The crisis of 2008 was a global phenomenon, but in the US, it was also an episode in an era of increasing inequality that began in the 1970s. The American dream was never about just making ends meet – it was about social mobility and giving your children a better life than you had growing up. That is beyond the means of an increasing number of US households. When the next recession comes, it will come as inequality reaches new heights, and if US history is any indication, that will translate into massive political change.

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