“Positive economic growth in the U.S. is likely to continue,” says Dr. Brian Jacobsen, CFA, CFP®, chief portfolio strategist with Wells Fargo Funds Management, LLC. But not all agree. Find out why in this excerpt of On the Trading DeskSM from Friday, May 10, 2013.
Listen to the full interview.
You think there is positive economic growth for the U.S., but not everyone may agree. What are the concerns?
Some of the biggest concerns that I hear from people are not necessarily related to the short-term outlook for the U.S. economy. It's more about the long-term outlook, and I categorize these as the dreaded Ds—debt, demographics, and decline. I think what’s on a lot of people's minds are several things: We have too much debt; our population is aging too rapidly; and perhaps we're on the decline, especially from a technological standpoint, where perhaps we have reached some sort of peak or pinnacle when it comes to innovation.
Well, let's take a look at each of these dreaded Ds. First, debt. There is certainly a lot of it. What have you to say to those who are concerned that debt could affect the U.S. economic growth story?
If you look at the United States right now, the total public debt outstanding as of May 8 was $16.784 trillion. Compare that to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), which is one measure of a nation's ability to pay for that debt, that's about $16 trillion. Now, we have more debt than we do GDP, and people point to that as a problem. And it can be a problem, if that persists indefinitely. It's important to remember Stein's Law—Stein was on the Council of Economic Advisors under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Stein's Law simply says that what cannot continue won't. And, to an extent, I think that these trillion-dollar deficits that we've seen in the past, we're seeing those shrink a little bit. There's a lot of public attention saying that we have to do something about this deficit problem. Thankfully, we're having that conversation now as opposed to waiting say 15 years from now. If we weren't having the conversation today, then I would probably be worried.