There has been no genuine economic growth for the past 30 years. None. All of it has been the result of increases in systemic debt. If our aggregate economic statistics weren't so perverted by a self-serving Keynesian worldview, it would be apparent that all the growth since 1980 has been illusory. In other words, if the GDP accounted for debt as a counter factor against growth, there would be no positive increases in GDP.
Bare in mind that this does not mean that we have not felt the benefits of a growing economy; we have, in a sense. In the tradition of the classical economists, I shall use a microeconomic example to elucidate an equivalent macroeconomic one. Take a household for instance. It has the ability to increase its standard of living by borrowing money, and maintaining it by borrowing even more. But once it is unable to do so - and unless you believe debt can be taken on indefinitely it must - not only will it must live without the borrowed money, it must undergo the opportunity cost of paying it back. Thanks to the modern miracle of credit creation and leveraged money, America has been doing this for 30 years now. (Note: I am refering to systemic debt, which includes but is by no means entirely Government debt). Because the media is so fixated on the Government debt, the public is pretty much ignorant of the crippling effect of the economy wide private-sector debt has as it hangs over the economy. Its a little over 50 trillion, around 350% of GDP. A mere contraction of 10% of this debt will shrink the economy by a third, and probably more given the multiplier effect.
This is why I am so confident that the reccession is not over; there is simply no way to avoid it. All recessions since 1980 have been the free-markets attempt to correct the malinvestment engendered by the Government and Central Bank. But the response has been inevitably to put off for another day. Keep spending, keep loaning, keep the the debt levels up. And it has worked, in the short term. But now is when our bad habits are catching up. We haven't seen anything yet.
Interesting times indeed.