Here’s some more data reminding that much cheaper gasoline and overall energy prices could well be a decidedly mixed blessing for the U.S. economy.
As I pointed out last Friday, the recent energy price crash could well boost economic growth, at least over the short term, if Americans take the money saved on filling up at the gas station and heating their homes and spend it on goods and services that have originated in the United States. Given how imports dominate the U.S. consumer goods market, however, that prospect seems pretty far-fetched.
Moreover, the slightly-less-recent energy boom has spearheaded the rebound of the nation’s productive economy. As I also pointed out, relying more on production rather than consumption to generate growth is critical to achieving President Obama’s worthy goal of creating “an economy that’s built to last,” in which prosperity rests on a firmer foundation.
You can see how crucial energy output has been to the productive economy’s revival by looking at the Federal Reserve’s industrial production index, which gauges inflation-adjusted output for energy, manufacturing, and mining. Tables 1 and 2 of its historical data section show that, from 2007 (the year the Great Recession began) through 2011, energy increased from 24.52 percent of the total index to 27.70 percent. Manufacturing decreased from 73.88 percent to 71.31 percent.
These percentages have yet to be updated, but there’s no doubt that, through the latest (November, 2014) figures, this trend has continued. As made clear in the raw output data, since December, 2011, energy production after inflation has risen by 14.19 percent – faster than the 12.16 percent real output growth registered by manufacturing.
The lesson here isn’t that the American energy revolution shouldn’t have been encouraged, or that it’s a flash in the pan. Rather, it’s that the nation’s prosperity requires the broadest possible world-class productive base. Unfortunately, the near future is likeliest to show that that goal hasn’t been achieved yet.
Incidentally, similar data has been analyzed for quite a while by Lee Adler on his excellent Wall Street Examiner site, too. Click on this link for an example.