Sustainable Prosperity

One of the terms that I frequently mention is “Sustainable Prosperity.”  I think the term and its meaning have tremendous significance to our economic future at this juncture.

Providing an exact definition for the term is difficult due to the complexity of the underlying concepts.

“Sustainable” can be defined in terms of time, as well as continuity.  If a posititive economic trend exists for a few years, can it be termed ‘sustainable’?  Case in point was the housing bubble.  Most would say it lasted between 5 to 10 years.  The economy certainly benefitted from it.  However, the benefit was not sustainable.  In fact, in its wake, it has caused an immense amount of damage and poses a tremendous ongoing threat.

From a continuity standpoint, in order for growth to be sustainable it has to be resistant to severe economic setbacks.  Of course, history has shown that recessions, panics, and the occasional depressions are inherent in the economic cycle.  However, if economic growth is sustainable in nature it should over the course of time be able to recover “lost ground” and attain new highs.

The concept of “Prosperity” is somewhat difficult to define as well.  I like to think of it as being multifaceted and having deep “breadth.”  Of particular concern should be enrichment that is narrowly achieved, i.e. a large amount of the nation’s prosperity concentrated in the hands of a few.  This is a concern from both a societal and economic standpoint.  Strong, vibrant, and sustainable economies have widespread prosperity.

Other aspects of “Prosperity” is the amount and composition of such.  If median household income is growing at a rate greater than inflation, can that be termed prosperity?  Can prosperity be defined in GDP growth?  Or is prosperity a more general term that encompasses such concepts as standard of living, the ability for the masses to have affordable access to healthcare, higher education, etc.?

As aforementioned, I believe that the concept of Sustainable Prosperity is more important now than ever before.  If one assumes, as per the current economic consensus, that we are experiencing economic recovery, I think it would behoove us to constantly assess whether we are experiencing true “Sustainable Prosperity” or something that might only resemble such.

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SPX at 1123.89 as this post is written