by John Rubino
The rationale for today’s easy money policies is pretty straightforward: Falling interest rates and rising government deficits will counteract the drag of excessive debts taken on in previous stimulus programs and asset bubbles, enabling the developed world to create wealth faster than it takes on new debt. The result: a steady decline in debt/GDP to levels that allow the current system to survive without wrenching changes.
That’s a seductive, free-lunchy kind of idea — if it actually worked. But as the following chart of historical US GDP growth illustrates, as we’ve taken on more and more debt, each successive stimulus program has generated less and less growth. Compare the past few years to the rip-roaring recoveries of the 1960s through 1990s and it’s clear that whatever mechanism once converted easy money into greater wealth is no longer operating.