Skip to main content

The "Walmart Death Spiral of the U.S. Economy"

(U.S. Neoliberal Economic Theory in Practice, 1992-Present -- in Pictures)


Neoliberals Take the Reigns

In December 1992, according to Bob Woodward's The Agenda, President-elect Bill Clinton was about to announce Laura Tyson's appointment as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, when Tyson mentioned she and Robert Reich had debated in The American Prospect whether the nationality of a firm was important. Suddenly recalling the debate, Clinton said, “You know what? You were right, and [Reich] was wrong.” So we decided to ask them now: Bob Reich, were you wrong? Laura Tyson, were you right?

The American Prospect

Setting the Stage

1. Reaganomics (1980-1992)
2. The Era of Globalization (1992-1999)

In 1999 the Democratic House Ways and Means Committee showed us that Reagan-era attacks on organized labor and globalization had collapsed the U.S. Personal Savings Rate

During this period the economy was kept afloat as the banks exploded the personal credit card debt


ACT I:  The Collapse Begins

In April of 1999 the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank showed that the U.S. Personal Savings Rate went to zero for the first time since the great depression in 1998



Later revisions by the Bush Administration ensured that the negative values were scrubbed from the historical record. . .

without these revisions the U.S. Personal Savings rate would have been negative between 1999 and 2008

The negative savings rate from 1999 to 2008 was twice as strong (-3.0% vs -1.5%) and 8 years longer than the negative period of 1933


ACT II:  Financial Services Modernization

1.  Removing the Engine of Job Growth

The collapse of the U.S. domestic job market began in 2000 immediately after the signing of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999

In 1999 the U.S. economy stopped creating jobs after it became more profitable for banks to create risky derivatives than to actually invest and grow the domestic  economy



Some saw the writing on the wall



ACT III:  The Great Recession

1.  Financial Services Bubble Economy leads to the loss of 8.5 million jobs
2.  The engine for job growth is still missing

The rate of job growth during this recovery is the slowest since World War II

The 6-year recovery has nearly produced enough jobs to make up for those jobs lost during the 2008 recession



The Great Walmart Death Spiral

1.  Population growth demands are barely below current job growth rates

The rate of job growth to maintain a vibrant and growing U.S. economy was last seen during the 1990s

While we have almost recovered the number of jobs lost since 2008, the current rate of recovery is far below that needed to recover the additional population needs since the recession began

Population Growth Outpaces Jobs

Others say reversing the (job to population growth) trend is beyond the power of short-term measures like the Federal Reserve’s monetary stimulus.

But these views only raise further questions: Why are more Americans choosing not to work? What kinds of government policies might be able to reverse the trend? And, if we cannot, what are the long-term consequences for our nation’s fiscal and economic health?

Appelbaum, B.  "Population Growth Outpaces Jobs." The New York Times. September 6, 2013



The U.S. economy is now dying in a slow dance of economic death.  I call this effect the "Walmart Death Spiral of U.S. Neoliberal Economic Theory"

While U.S. corporations hold back record amounts of dollars in savings accounts, the middle class continues to collapse at a rate of over 37,000 households per month



How will it end?

The U.S. economy has been under direct attack since 1980, with little hope of recovery under current economic practices.  Over the course of these last 34 years we have seen a wholescale collapse of the U.S. social welfare.

The long and slow non-recovery since 2008 has significantly eroded the nation's ability to withstand inevitable short-term economic impacts.


the next economic impact will push the United States over the edge, beyond any hope of stabilized economic recovery while maintaining a functional democratic economy.


A total economic mobilization effort, on scale with the WWII wartime mobilization is needed to prevent further economic collapse --  the clear and present danger of climate change also requires a total economic mobilization effort to address domestic carbon emissions.
I implore our leadership in Washington to call David Korten, Call
 Robert Reich, Call Amartya Sen, Call Joseph E. Stiglitz


Begin drafting legislation empowering a Federal Climate Change Mitigation Authority Now!








12:55 PM PT:

At the request of SE Portland in the comments, this image shows how the bottom 80% of the U.S. has seen declining household incomes since 1999.


U.S. household incomes show declines for the bottom 80% of wealthiest households.  Later trends show that this collapse is increasing! This is not sustainable under any circumstance!

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

skybluewater, fly, felix19, claude, Thumb, paradox, Angie in WA State, Alfred E Newman, Chi, jotter, Timaeus, grumbleberries, mickT, NYmom, Shockwave, cotterperson, hyperstation, GayHillbilly, eeff, gjohnsit, grover, EricS, fugwb, wonkydonkey, susakinovember, srkp23, CoolOnion, larryrant, mollyd, PeteZerria, oceanview, ctsteve, k9disc, tidalwave1, Miss Jones, kdrivel, Evolution, Chirons apprentice, lcrp, riverlover, Brian82, Josiah Bartlett, Frank Vyan Walton, maybeeso in michigan, radarlady, NoMoreLies, greycat, LakeSuperior, Heiuan, Flint, run around, ZappoDave, ChemBob, myeye, stagemom, Kevskos, madmommy, eru, owlbear1, Sun Tzu, jane123, Sandino, kaliope, Tunk, Ginny in CO, FindingMyVoice, peacestpete, bently, xaxnar, Jim P, Kingsmeg, tobendaro, emeraldmaiden, seefleur, The Wizard, arlene, NBBooks, triv33, erratic, The Hindsight Times, Rosaura, se portland, ER Doc, llbear, onionjim, BlueMississippi, bumbi, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, BB10, shaharazade, Friend of the court, Temmoku, Aaa T Tudeattack, cpresley, Babylon, tegrat, ammasdarling, One Pissed Off Liberal, Habitat Vic, SpecialKinFlag, camlbacker, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, some other george, Cofcos, HeartlandLiberal, terabytes, joedemocrat, jedennis, Don midwest, on the cusp, rmonroe, JDWolverton, GAS, OleHippieChick, mamamedusa, Involuntary Exile, LI Mike, elwior, KJG52, Calamity Jean, Lujane, Cassandra Waites, Gemina13, My Spin, HarpboyAK, statsone, 207wickedgood, maggiejean, J M F, greengemini, nchristine, lostinamerica, LinSea, bsmechanic, banjolele, JesseCW, geebeebee, MKSinSA, asym, winkk, astral66, Words In Action, YellerDog, NJpeach, piers, kjoftherock, mookins, Things Come Undone, 2questions, ATFILLINOIS, pixxer, Puddytat, Otteray Scribe, Oh Mary Oh, Onomastic, Bluefin, slowbutsure, jm214, poorbuster, lexalou, Teiresias70, CoExistNow, boomerchick, marleycat, Jasonhouse, thomask, Santa Susanna Kid, PrescottPatriot, RfrancisR, tardis10, IB JOHN, sound of progress, VTCC73, Marihilda, cactusgal, Azazello, deltadoc, IndieGuy, orangecurtainlib, a2nite, swedepi, BusyinCA, MartyM, Galtisalie, Windowpane, CalBearMom, Captain Chaos, Hugh Jim Bissell, bisleybum, Lily O Lady, Blue Bell Bookworm, countwebb, JayRaye, goodpractice, HedwigKos, Yo Bubba, Alhambra, Jollie Ollie Orange, howabout, Patango, patbahn, lehman scott, trkingmomoe, thanatokephaloides, Skyye, Choco8, P E Outlier, PrefersaPension, numble, Ericinsantarosa

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site