There has been NO actual positive GDP growth during the entire period from 1953 onward – until the 4th quarter of 2009, and since 1980 the true GDP numbers, when one looks at output (not what one “pulls forward” via debt) has been hideously bad. The spike upward in actual debt-adjusted growth that began in the 4th quarter of 2009 and peaked in the 1st quarter of 2010 was due to total systemic debt reduction – the very thing the government is trying to prevent, but which is necessary to bring the economy back into balance.
This, incidentally, is why median incomes haven’t moved upward at all in the last decade and why it seems to be harder and harder every year to maintain a middle-class lifestyle - and has been since the 1950s. The loss of purchasing power in real terms, the drive to “two income” households and finally the wild screams from the media, government, and lastly Bernanke’s recent assertion that “QE2” has been a “success” because the stock market has gone up all underlie the truth – we have not grown the economy at all during the last sixty years! Instead we serially pulled out the credit card and said “Charge It!”, continually rolling over the debt and adding more to it.
If you look at the stock market, one has to ask – when did it start to “take off”? In 1991 the S&P 500 printed 300 and the Dow stood at 2,500. That was the start of the monstrous "bull run" in stocks.
Exactly none of the alleged “stock market appreciation” has come from actual economic growth since that time. It has all come from ever-increasing amounts of leverage (debt) that, when subtracted back out of the change in GDP, show that on an actual output basis the economy of the United States has not printed a positive number the entire time.
Nobody in the media – or government – will talk about this, despite the fact that the there’s little room for argument on the mathematical facts – they’re right there in the government data.