Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart spoke to an audience of Latin American businesspeople this morning, and without really stating the issue in such stark terms, compared the economic experience of some Latin American countries in the 1980s to the current troubles facing the U.S. economy. Lockhart referred to the Latin American experience of the 1980s as a "lost decade" during which "many countries experienced economic turmoil, with low growth, high inflation, and financial crises. The region's real GDP growth averaged about 2 percent."
Except for the high inflation bit, that image reflects the United States today:
The U.S. economy has been in a technical recovery since the summer of 2009. The recovery to date has seen weak growth and persistently high unemployment. By any number of measures, the strength of the recovery has been and remains disappointing.
After citing some figures on unemployment, Lockhart concludes:
There is a risk to monetary policy being employed too aggressively and without effect to address economic problems that can be resolved only by fiscal reforms that involve making tough choices about the allocation of public resources.
Like Bernanke and many other economists, Lockhart would like to see Congress do its job. As would we all.
Lockhart's speech is available here.
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