Monday, September 7, 2009

Thoughts on the so-called lack of progress

This made me think.

The S+P has returned 4.5% annually with dividends over the last 8 years… that’s peak to trough, though, so it's not apples to apples.

In other words, we’re still growing well, and comparing comparable parts of business cycles somewhat reveals that. It doesn’t help that last boom was tech and this one was energy, because the same stocks didn’t do well. It’s not perfect (can’t verify his numbers well)…

But given that peak P/Es were MUCH higher in prior peak than current one (which isn’t the economy, it's sentiment regarding our future growth, which tends to be fickle and rarely correct), we’ve made much more progress than expected.

The other point to be made is that we just fought a tremendously wasteful war and still came out ahead. War arguably stimulates an economy with a shortage of jobs and too much labor, but we certainly weren't in that situation in 2001 and 2002. (I say arguably because it could be the Hayek-style parable of the broken window wastefulness, where everyone "seems" to benefit but it's actually just redistribution from the US taxpayer or future US taxpayer to the people involved in war). The fact that we still grew is impressive, but I suppose it is possible that the fact that the war was financed on debt may make this irrelevant - we haven't paid yet, so it won't have dragged on the economy yet.

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