It is the personal debt load.
This is an interesting view. I agree with most of it and the comments. One thing that I feel is overlooked so many times and that is the personal debt load. In the past 30-40 years, much of the growth has been through borrowed money at a personal level.
Easy credit became available in the 70's. I remember trying to get my first credit card that I needed for work, to rent vehicles and get plane tickets for travel. It took me a few tries to do it. Even required a letter from my employer. Then it got to the point of giving credit cards to whomever applied. Heck, in the US, at least, people where getting cards for their pets. Then add in the ever increasing limits. I must still get two or three credit card applications a month.
Mortgages have shot up in most countries. What once used to be an average 3 to 4 year gross family (single) income for a house is now up to 6 or 7 times but dual income. Much higher debt load.
"I want it now!" society where people use credit and delayed payments to dig a deeper debt hole. New toys, as in vehicles, TV's, computers, latest cell phone, and the list goes on. Someone making a 6 figure wage and they cannot get by one month of trouble without the banks calling them about missed or late payments.
University debt loads that are now getting to the same level as a mortgage. The need for a higher education was fed to the public and they took it hook line and sinker. Now that the economy demands university educated individuals for starting positions, the debt that these people start their lives with is massive.
Then to top it off, wages have not kept up with real inflation. The inflation that includes all the costs that we have to deal with on a daily basis. The ones that the banks and governments prefer to leave out as they push inflation higher than they are comfortable with. Of course this fits "Basic failure of macro economics is that they fail to model one basic component of human behavior: greed."
The greed of the executives in treating the workers as expenses instead of investments. I still remember the days when you worked for a business and they wanted to train you to improve the operation of the business. Now if you need training, you had better find the funds, time and do it on your own time.
A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with some executive about why they were not expanding their business. His comments where that people were not spending enough money. Yet, the employees were told to take a pay cut to keep their jobs. Nice circular reasoning.
As many of the commentators have said, people that have been given cash in the past to help stimulate the economy put it towards their priorities. One is paying down debt and the other is buying food which is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the family expenses.