The Macro Tangle
The fundamental problem in the American economy is that, for years, people treated rising asset prices as a substitute for personal savings.
I think that there are a lot of macroeconomists who instinctively would prefer more U.S. savings, higher exports, and lower oil consumption. However, they worry about getting from here to there. We now have lower asset prices to induce people to save more, a weaker dollar (notwithstanding the trend of recent weeks) to encourage exports, and higher oil prices (ditto) to discourage oil consumption. So far, the process of getting from here to there has increased the unemployment rate, but by much less than one might have expected. So far, the disruptions in financial markets have been proportionally higher than the disruptions to employment and production.