Is America roaring back?
The facts show that the economy is out of recession. But many people feel things are getting worse.
The numbers are there, plain as day. They show an economy on the mend, a country returning to its former glory, an America that is once again beautiful.
So why doesn't it feel that way?
This is "the comeback country," Newsweek crows. "America is coming back stronger, better, and faster than nearly anyone expected -- and faster than most of its international rivals," writes Daniel Gross.
And his reasoning is pretty sound. The Dow is up 70% in the past 13 months, he writes. Car sales rose 16% in the first quarter. In March, 162,000 jobs were added. The dollar is pretty strong. Only China, India and Brazil are growing faster than the U.S.
All true. But who's celebrating? Home foreclosures are rampant. Credit is still hard to get. Banks are acting like another recession is just around the corner. And the deficits we're wading through seem to get worse by the day.
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But Gross looks at the bright side, and admires America's ability to react to the financial crisis. Look how quickly corporate America restructured, he writes. Look at how we wrote off bad debts.
"America still leads the world at processing failure, at latching on to new innovations and building them to scale quickly and profitably," he writes.
And out of that failure comes rebirth, he notes. We'll tone down the McMansions, but we'll have less debt and more capital and we'll rely less on foreign countries for our energy needs.
Most Americans aren't as optimistic. A March poll by Bloomberg found that people believe by nearly a 2-to-1 margin that the economy has worsened over the past year, according to BusinessWeek. President Obama's approval numbers dropped to a new low of 44%.
But contrast that to the markets. TheS&P 500 index ($INX)is up nearly 75% from a year ago. Corporate bonds and commodity prices are also on fire, BusinessWeek notes.
Overall, economists are generally expecting the economy to grow by 3% this year. That is not insignificant.
So is America roaring back? Sounds like it, but it'll be a while before many of us believe it.
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