Commentary: Belt tightening in the near future, but not like 2008
From Delaware State News
Commentary from Dr. John Stapleford, Caesar Rodney Institute’s chairman, and past director of the University of Delaware’s Bureau of Economic and Research
There are two views among economists regarding the direction of the U.S. economy. The first anticipates a substantial recession similar to 2008-09. The second expects a severe dip in the second quarter of 2020 with a steady rebound thereafter. I favor the severe dip scenario.
The 2008-09 recession was prolonged because there were extreme price distortions in residential and capital markets that took time to correct. The wealth effect from stock market losses was compounded by a huge decline in residential housing equity.
The COVID-19 crisis, while painful to many families, will have a temporary sharp impact on the U.S. macro economy. The pandemic measures adopted will fall the most heavily on restaurants, hotels, and airlines. The wealth effect from the losses in the stock market will slow consumer spending in the short term, but the underlying prices and resource markets in the nation are sound and two consecutive quarters of declining GDP is unlikely.
How hard was Delaware hit by the 2008-09 recession? Employment dropped by 50,000 over 20 months, an 11% decline. Total wages and personal income declined for a year with losses of 3-4%, and output fell 6% over five quarters.
Structural changes in Delaware’s economy caused by the 2008-09 recession were profound. As happened following the 1973-75 recession, the 2008-09 recession dramatically altered manufacturing. Over $3.5 billion dollars of annual output was lost from the downsizing of the DuPont Co., Astra Zeneca, and the remaining automobile manufacturing, together with associated wholesale operations.
It took six years for total Delaware employment to recover to its 2008 peak level. And the state’s economy is still struggling. For five months now, based upon its leading economic index for Delaware, the Philadelphia Fed has been forecasting a second quarter 2020 contraction in Delaware’s economy.