HSBC sees a similar issue in Asia. Investment in emerging Asia has grown faster than demand for products, the bank said in a note. "Despite soaring wages, consumption isn't strong enough to absorb all that's being churned out by Asian factories."
While the region's high household savings rates are often blamed for the lackluster spending, a lower rate may not be enough to raise consumption's share of gross domestic product (GDP), HSBC said, adding it believes the true culprit is wages.
"The share of labor in total national income – accelerating wage growth notwithstanding – is still too low, and often continues to fall. This means that wage growth isn't even keeping up with the expansion of nominal GDP," HSBC said.
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"For consumption to absorb a greater share of output, the share of labor in national income will need to rise, which requires wages to grow faster than nominal GDP. That, in turn, hurts profits;
unless, of course, productivity rises," it said, predicting a "hard slog" ahead for Asia.
Silvercrest's Chovanec also points to stagnant wages as a factor damping demand in the U.S., but he believes it is making the country more competitive.
"Long-standing trends are starting to reverse: the U.S. is seeing an increase in manufacturing jobs (partly due to reshoring) and significant improvement to its trade balance," he said. "Domestic demand will grow, but mainly on the back of a production story driven by global rebalancing."
—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1