The U.S. Expansion is Still Going

In a recent Bloomberg article, columnist Nir Kaissar suggests that the current extended period of economic growth—albeit raising plenty of questions among some market-watchers—may have a ways to go.

Kaissar cites comments made by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said the U.S. is “on a good path for this year” due to healthy growth, a strong labor market and low inflation. He also cited comments shared by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in which he argued that fundamentals of the current period are “more stable than is true for many past expansions.”

Kaissar argues that although the current expansion is running long, “when comparing current growth to that of previous expansions, an imminent recession no longer seems inevitable.” The following chart supports his thesis:

Kaissar highlights two takeaways:

  • “The length of expansions, with few exceptions, has increased dramatically over the last seven decades.”
  • “Real annualized GDP growth has gradually declined over the same time. With each successive expansion, in other words, it’s taking the economy longer to produce the same amount of total growth.”

Kaissar emphasizes that large economies grow more slowly and steadily than smaller ones. While the current expansion may be long in the tooth, he adds, at it’s current pace it would take another six years to match that achieved between March 1991 and March 2001, and another nine years to match the period between February 1961 and December 1969. “By those lights,” he writes, “the duration of the current expansion seems less worrisome.”