It has been three years since the beginning of the most intense phase of the financial crisis in the late summer and fall of 2008, and more than two years since the economic recovery began in June 2009.
There have been some positive developments: The functioning of financial markets and the banking system in the United States has improved significantly. Manufacturing production in the United States has risen nearly 15 percent since its trough, driven substantially by growth in exports; indeed, the U.S. trade deficit has been notably lower recently than it was before the crisis, reflecting in part the improved competitiveness of U.S. goods and services. Business investment in equipment and software has continued to expand, and productivity gains in some industries have been impressive.
Nevertheless, it is clear that, overall, the recovery from the crisis has been much less robust than we had hoped. Recent revisions of government economic data show the recession as having been even deeper, and the recovery weaker, than previously estimated; indeed, by the second quarter of this year–the latest quarter for which official estimates are available–aggregate output in the United States still had not returned to the level that it had attained before the crisis. Slow economic growth has in turn led to slow rates of increase in jobs and household incomes. Continue reading