A positive outlook – ride the wave
Everywhere I turn I see a world that looks more and more like the one we left behind 14 months ago. Cars are bumper to bumper on Las Vegas Boulevard. Pedestrians crowd the sidewalks along the Las Vegas Strip. World-renowned artists return to the stage. Fans cheer on the Golden Knights for the playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Business capacities increase and mask needs
are easing. The worst is behind us and a return to normal is on the horizon.
Getting here was not easy. It took great personal sacrifice, revolutionary medical breakthroughs and unprecedented levels of federal aid to counter the crippling effects of COVID-19 on the economy. As a nation, we are ready to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror and welcome a new era of economic stability and growth, and massive federal spending last year will help us get there.
The three major federal stimulus packages passed during the pandemic injected more than $ 5 trillion into the U.S. economy, helping households and businesses stay afloat as the pandemic weakened the country’s economic base. For many households, stimulus checks and improved unemployment benefits have saved lives and helped pay rent, put food on the table and meet basic daily needs.
For many others, the payments have boosted household finances and left them better off today than before the pandemic. In fact, personal disposable income in the United States has reached an all-time high of $ 21.9 trillion, $ 5.1 trillion more than before the start of the pandemic. This equates to an additional disposable income of $ 15,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. To put this in perspective, it would normally take six years to increase disposable income to this degree.
Even as we seek to profit from a post-pandemic economic boom, we must not forget that it was funded by a giant IOU. The national debt jumped $ 4.5 trillion to a record $ 27.7 trillion, or nearly 130% of gross domestic product. The influx of federal stimulus funds has helped our economy weather the pandemic and will fuel future prosperity, but the borrowed money must be paid back. The national discussion has already started to tilt to tackle the mountain of national debt which has more than doubled in the last decade.
In the meantime, a good chunk of the stimulus money has gone to new cars, bigger homes, home improvement projects, lots of big screen TVs and more than a few boats. They funded recreation, vacations and excursions. There are those who have strongly criticized blind discretionary spending. I see it quite differently. While I am concerned about the form and structure of the federal stimulus, and will never approve spending by governments or households beyond their means, the federal government has distributed an unprecedented level of stimulus with the specific hope that it would be spent. The fact that many Americans choose to spend an unexpected influx of cash on things some consider extravagant, frivolous, or unnecessary is a value judgment that seems to miss the economic point and, perhaps more importantly, ignores of the reality that people often attribute to the greater advantage of buying the things they want over the things they need.
For my part, I say that we should ride the wave. The pandemic has given us a new appreciation for the preciousness of life and time. For those who have saved and struggled, I have no problem spending a little of that extra money on something they’ve always wanted or doing something they’ve put off for years, either out of choice or out of necessity. . In fact, I think this may be exactly what our economy needs.
Members of the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial and press team were not involved in the creation of this content.