We're still in 'balance sheet recession': Roach

We're still in 'balance sheet recession': Roach

American consumers are still unwilling to really spend money and that's the main reason the U.S. economy has not recovered faster, influential economist Stephen Roach said Wednesday.

"We've been in a balance sheet recession , and we're still in it. That's the bottom line," he told CNBC's " Squawk Box " in an interview. "The big story in this recovery that's holding us back is the 1.5 percent consumption growth we've been on for seven years-plus."

In a balance sheet recession, consumption, or consumer spending, is put on the backburner in favor of saving and paying down debt.

"Consumers were battered by a levered asset bubble, sounds like China, and they have yet to fully recover," Roach said-adding that if the unemployment rate were real, "we'd have consumption growth tracking at 3 percent to 3.5 percent."

The government earlier this month said nonfarm payrolls increased a slightly weaker-than-expected 223,000 in June. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 5.3 percent. The July jobs report is out on Friday, Aug. 7, about five weeks before the September meeting of the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee.

The Fed concludes its two-day July meeting Wednesday afternoon, with the release of its policy statement. No interest rate increase is expected this time around, but investors will be looking for clues on whether the first rate hike in nine years might happen in September or December.

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