The global economy suffers from a demand gap in large part because of sustained declines in the share of labour income in most major economies. So far the deflationary threat posed by underconsumption has been averted thanks to debt-driven consumption and property investment in the US and several European economies. This has, however, resulted in growing global trade imbalances and financial fragility which has culminated in a global crisis. A return to the pre-crisis pattern of growth could prove to be even more damaging. A US–China rebalancing is necessary but not sufficient to restore stability and growth in the world economy. The two major mature surplus economies, Japan and particularly Germany, which have been siphoning global demand without adding to global growth, will also need to reduce their reliance on exports and add to global demand.
All major economies should pursue full employment policies and higher wage settlements in order to avoid underconsumption crises and sluggish growth.
The US should not allow its economy to be driven by speculative asset and credit cycles. It should live within its means and shift to export-led growth.
China should shift to consumption-led growth by significantly increasing the share of household in GDP through faster wage growth and greater government transfers and by raising public spending on social services.
Germany should stop competitive disinflation and accelerate growth based on domestic consumption.