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This Week's Issue: The Recovery Paradox

The old joke among economists is that a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, but a depression is when you lose yours. In the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan made the line political by adding, "A recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his." This year, quite a few Republicans are substituting President Obama's name for Carter's. But the real question is, When do people feel that we're in a recovery? Is it when your neighbor gets a job and you get a raise? If so, we're not there yet. The unemployment rate is still high. The housing market is lousy. And while Wall Street and the stock market are roaring back, millions of Americans read about a recovery but don't yet believe in it.

Our cover story by Curious Capitalist columnist Rana Foroohar and Money columnist Bill Saporito explains why. Real-wage growth has been stagnant since the 1970s, longer than most people have been working. The new jobs are clustered at the top and bottom; there aren't enough in the middle. And while we're doing a whole lot better than Europe, people are looking at China's growth rate, not France's.

But we are doing better, and that's likely to continue. I believe in American economic exceptionalism, which at its core suggests that we're more innovative and ingenious than our competitors and that we figure out a way to win. Chinese businessmen study American entrepreneurs to learn how to make their own economy more creative. But as our story makes clear, we can't continue to take shortcuts. We have to invest in education, figure out our immigration strategy, fix the housing crisis, streamline the tax code and create an even more hospitable environment for our entrepreneurs. That's a real recovery.

- Rick Stengel
TIME Managing Editor

On the cover: Photo-Illustration by Joe Magee for TIME
Mellissa Espiritu's profile photoRajendra Shinge's profile photoMatus Ivanecky's profile photoTyler Horst's profile photo
It will certainly take some time to come around...
+TIME Virtually I love reading Time's articles .Circle me ? o
yep absolutely is a real question about people :>
Economies get better and worse on their own in an unending cycle. Pretty stupid to think a president has the power to fix a good global economy especially these days.
Stopped reading this garbage magazine after this racist article by Joel Stein in 2010.,9171,1999416,00.html
This magazine responded by writing that it was no way intended to cause offense. Spew hateful speech then cower under a weak apology, how pathetic, TIME. Heads should have rolled. Its publications like these that breed racism and bigotry. And then we wonder why a black teenager wearing a hoodie carrying candy is murdered by a vigilante.
starting to shape up after looking lat this lol
Wow, that wasn't so complex.
There is no such thing as "business cycles" the staus of the economy is the direct result of a finite number of decisions and polcies. Oublic policies that incourge growth are being thwarted by private decisons that inhibit growth. the wealth of a minorty or of individuals does not translate to a robust economy. But there is no such thing as a magical business cycle anymore than exists the invisble hand of adam Smit.
+Kanishk D calling Stein a racist over that article is like calling Stephen Colbert a racist over his TV routine. Stein's satirical target was New Jersey and its… umm… its… its… diverse (yes, that's the word!) culture.
+Keith Keber Stein himself came out with a weak apology, 'stomach sick' and uncomfortable with (his) changing town, aka. racism. Its best to call out racism than cloak it with an innocuous label; "diversity", because diversity is to not be uncomfortable, and goes beyond relishing a saag paneer dish.
Dead cat bounce. It's an election year and the bad news has been put on ice for the time being. Those who believe we've hit the bottom are delusional.
E Tudor
One thing we should ask ourselves if government statistics are really reliable or not..
+Kanishk D, yah, Stein's and Time's apology is prominent at the end of the article. Still, I found no intent to wound, although Stein might have been better advised to avoid focusing on a specific ethnic group. The racism and prejudice I object to is the kind that deliberately corrodes respect for individuals of a certain group, over skin color or economic strata, sexual cohesion or any other distinction. The kind of core delusion that leads to a Trayvon Martin or a Matthew Shepard.

AFAICT, there was none of that kind hateful bile in that article. On the contrary, I sensed a lot of affection for his subject.
+Kanishk D I first thought you must be overreacting, then I read the article. Wow. What a poor and awkward attempt at 'humor.'
+Charles Wierzbicki I agree with you but some people were bothered with the project because of the 'eminent domain' issue. Unless the scare was fabricated.
LOL, the Keystone pipeline will make not a dent in U.S. oil consumption, and it certainly will not reduce gasoline prices noticeably. The whole purpose of the Keystone transport pipe is to get Canadian shale oil to a shipping port, not to supply U.S. gas pumps. It is IDIOTIC to think that the purpose of Keystone is to reduce U.S. gas prices in any way, shape or form. The sole purpose of the pipeline is to increase profits for the company mining the oil. If that means decreased pump prices in the United State— and it won't— then fine, so be it. However, if more profitability means loading the crude on an oversized barge and shipping it to Asia or Europe and selling it there, even better.

The very best that drivers in the U.S. can expect from the Keystone pipeline— the absolute APOGEE of Keystone's economic benefit— is domestic gas prices that increase more slowly (because overseas demand is temporarily sated). And that is FAR from a guarantee.

The politics of Keystone are the politics of greed and private benefit. There is no discussion of Keystone that is not literally riddled with self-interest, which should be sufficient for anyone with a brain to turn away from this ill-advised project.

If we really want to decrease oil prices, we should attack the problem at its most vulnerable spot: electricity production. LFTR technology offers real benefits that oil transport facilities envy. That is where public and scientific policy should focus and soon. Yesterday.
+Keith Keber If the rising price of oil had anything to do with supply and demand, then how would one explain the rise in price of all commodities across the board? What we're witnessing is not commodity appreciation but the debasement of the US dollar.
Whens gas prices drop everything else can drop. When I can afford to feed my family and be paid well enough that I no longer qualify for government assistance then I would consider the recession over.
+Adrian Azzopardi commodity markets are heavily influenced by speculation (gambling). Economically, they are less reliable than a roulette table. Only in cases of extreme scarcity or oversupply can commodities reliably indicate anything, and by then nobody needs those indicators as they can see plainly with their own eyes what is happening. Commodity markets were built entirely for gamblers to prop up prices artificially. Any currency valuation derived from commodities is as ethereal and subject to change as fog on a windy day.

+William Reddick: if you really want to reduce gasoline prices, then insist on generating electricity without using oil. Get rid of solid fuel reactors and replace them with Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR) just like China is doing RIGHT NOW.

Look into LFTR if you are anti-nuke (as I was). Had the Fukushima plant used LFTR technology (as opposed to solid fuel technology), not only would it not have irradiated half of Japan, it would likely have been back up and running within days (or even hours) after the water receded.

Get rid of our oil-based electricity infrastructure and watch how fast the entire planet is swamped in oil. And then watch the gas prices plummet.
+William Reddick I'm sorry for your misfortune but the price of oil and gas are technically no higher than they were in the 80s. The problem's the declining value of the US dollar. The culprit is a combination of misguided social policy, excessive money printing and privileges awarded by government to international banks and multinational corporations. If the economy's to improve, government needs to be neutered ASAP.
+Keith Keber As we've seen many-a-time in the past, commodity price both rise and fall. So there must be a valid reason for speculators to be forecasting an increase in their respective prices. It is also not usual for all commodities to appreciate. What would you suggest would give a fair price if not a open market system?
+Keith Keber Money is nothing more than a convenient medium of exchange, which in itself behaves like a commodity and therefore is influenced by the basic economics principle of demand and supply. An economy should not be dependent on a monopolistic currency system but opened up fully to competition.
Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street Firms, Bankers, Mortgage Companies and the lack of Government Control, created a Ponzi Scheme called - “Derivatives,” and when their scheme failed, it wiped out the American Home-Ownership, causing millions of Home-Owners to lose their homes and millions more with their Homes “under-water.” [Under water is the term used when your mortgage becomes larger than the worth of your home]
+Sheriff Ali You're absolutely correct but what allowed these too-big-to-fail entities to exist in the first place?
+Sheriff Ali With the exception of government control. There is actually too much of it. To open a new company, any American would have to read through 160,000 pages of legislation. Now tell me, is it the rich or the poor who can afford to employ an army of lawyers to read through it?
Can anyone tell me why Americans allowed a non-native man to rise to the office of president and what you intend to do about it?
+Adrian Azzopardi, you misunderstand. I personally do not oppose commodities markets. I don't even oppose speculation as long as its frequent ills are not visited upon the economic community at large.

Those who wish to devise a system to gamble in the markets need first to figure a way to work within those parameters set above. Otherwise, strict, unyielding regulation will happen. It is not even a choice. It is totally inevitable. Eventually. Like it or not. Right or wrong. It has NEVER failed to occur and typically with the worst imaginable consequences.
As an over the road truck driver I can attest to the fact wages have been stagnant since the early 70's since my take home pay is less than it was in 1977 with increased cost of living and higher payroll deductions. It's a damn good thing my wife has always had a better pay check than me. It's really a sad notion that there are people in this industry actually happy to be making less than I did in 1977. Welfare to work dumping programs have killed what should be an otherwise growth industry. When corporations see transportation as a liability instead of an asset, that's when those costs are indiscriminately cut resulting in the backwards flow of wages.
+Keith Keber Speculation is indeed gambling and the gambler is equally likely to lose his bet. And believe me, there have been tens of thousands who have lost their wealth overnight. A gambler is willing to increase his risk and position size only when he feels that the odds are stacked well in his favour. So why is it that he feel so confident this time round? Could it be that he suspects the American economy is truly doomed and that a depression is just around the corner?
+Adrian Azzopardi native Americans (tribal people) are smarter than that. Other than them there are no "native Americans" as such. We are all just descendants of immigrants.
+Adrian Azzopardi: "Speculation is indeed gambling and the gambler is equally likely to lose his bet."

No. The gambler is always MUCH more likely to lose than to win, no matter how much he plays. That is not to say that nobody should gamble. It IS to say that a guy who has a family (or a nation) to support should seek his fortune elsewhere. It IS to say that a gambler should first secure those to whom he is responsible before betting the farm. Because— and this is a safe bet— if his gambling reaches a certain threshold of harm to others, others WILL put a cold end to it. Guaranteed.
to survive it's just need creativity ,,,
+B Gallagher I've been on G+ for many months but you're the very first person who's recognised me :) 'Dead cat bounce' is a term generally used to describes what appears to be a "recovering" stock market. So if you throw a dead cat off a building, it too will bounce as has the DOW Jones. With respect to the economy, any term denoting an impending cataclysm would do perfectly.
+B Gallagher the U.S. needs to get off its duff and realize the opportunity for mere parity is sliding down the drain. China has what, ELEVEN LFTRs under construction right now, all using technology, fully developed developed in the United States in the freaking 1950s!? They don't breed plutonium, they don't eternally spit radiation, when they break they become inert quickly… even their meager amount of waste is relatively harmless. For Gods sake, what are we waiting for?
"Real-wage growth has been stagnant since the 1970s"

And what happened in the early 70's?
Nixon took us fully off the gold standard and the dollar has been depreciating ever since.
+Adrian Azzopardi It is a reference (pet owners stop reading here as it is one of those revoltingly coprophagic terms economists like to throw into their craft to spice it up a little) to an autonomic response often seen when cats get hit by a car; they spring up in the air sometimes multiple times, even though lifeless, before finally lying still. It's equivalent to "running around like a chicken with its head cut off" or to the infinitely more tasteful "false start".
+Ron Stacy What you're unfortunately experiencing is the direct result of government interference in an economy it could never hope to understand, let alone run. Technically, since 1977, your wages (or the value of the dollar) should have risen by 10.6 times. Meaning that for every $1,000 dollars you own today should really be able to afford you $10,600 worth of goods and services. This is the degree to which respective government have impoverished the American people over the past 35 years.
It is probably worthwhile noting that of those past 35 years, fully 24 of them were strongly influenced by Republican policies and of the remainder, at least 4 (Clinton's final term) were also heavily influenced by Republican policies either being aggressively advanced or via simple obstruction.
+Adrian Azzopardi, better than that, it's intellectually interesting, scatalogical, repellent AND disgusting all at the same time, LOL, a guaranteed attention-getter.
Is there any truth in the rumor that there was government subsidized immigration to inflate the labor pool to intentionally keep wages depressed? Is there no end to government sponsored deception? Will the American working population ever be able to trust the government again?
+Ron Stacy Actually, that was the good news :) Over the last century the dollar has lost so much of its value that it's now a pittance of its former glory. How does 83x sound. And that's not all, the Fed has recently announced that by 2020 the USD will be devalued by a further 33%. Essentially taking the dollar from the gold standard to the paper and ink standard in just a hundred years. So stop wallowing in self pity and tell me how you intend to contribute towards solving this predicament?
+Keith Keber Stop kidding yourself :) The Republicans and Democrats (or the Republicrats) are one and the same political party with minor cosmetic differences.
+B Gallagher I suppose Neil deGrasse Tyson is some kind of standup comedian or maybe even a clown. NASA's Space Shuttle program cost the American taxpayer $1.5 billion per launch because when it's not their own money, efficiency isn't important. Which would you rather have, decent living quarters or a fancy space program? Then he goes on to mention other more earthly explorers like Columbus or Magellan who required patrons to fund their projects. Which other capital source could they have used if not that of kings and queens of their time? The greater majority of people were penniless serfs at the time. LOL
+Mira Sami You're spot on. But having a true free-market economy would do away with all the rest in one felled swoop.
+Ron Stacy It's not so much immigration which is the problem. If there existed no welfare, why on earth would an immigrant risk his life traveling to your country not knowing with a degree of certainty that there was a job in waiting? What are they going to eat to survive if they're already arriving financially insolvent? They might have a few quid for a week or so, but that's about it. The US government spends $100 billion off the backs of coerced, hardworking men such as yourself. I wouldn't just feel annoyed about the situation, I'd be bloody mad. And if you think politicians aren't getting a good cut for every immigrant who walks through, is sorely mistaken. Why does the government find it so easy to butcher black and brown children on foreign shores and feels all so lovey dovey for immigrant?
thats funny and true all at the same time!! small world.
+B Gallagher "a sinking ship is not the same as a spacecraft falling out of the sky" Sounds almost poetic, but was it an analogy? :) Intellectual Property Rights are a manifestation of government, the result of which saw the patenting of the first steam-engine, to the detriment of all the other steam-engine inventors and contributors of the time. It has been estimated that this sole indecent delayed the Industrial Revolution by anywhere between 15 to 20 years. I reckon private space industry would have already colonised Mars by now.
+B Gallagher Hope is all I have for America since I'm not American and reside some 5,000 miles away. As the saying goes, "the people deserve the government they elect". So I do understand and accept the fact that the country might not yet be ready for such change. Though I'm quite confident that it's only a brief matter of time until you all realise that liberty and happiness can only exist within the framework of a free-market economic system. It's the only humane philosophy I know of.
Oh and BTW, the private industry would employ the same brains government did, and a whole lot more :)
everyone should work hard no complain
+B Gallagher You're missing the forest for the trees. The overall benefits derived from a free society outweigh that of the current system by a longshot. Evil men, or the 0.01%, thrive in every economic environment but even more so when there's a government looking out for their interests at the expense of everyone else. To my knowledge, the internet is one of the closest example of a free-market economy. So were you for or against the government's proposal to restrict our freedoms through the likes of SOPA, PIPA and ACTA? If you fought against their implementation, then you and I are more alike than you think.

John Stossel - Burdensome Regulations
Walter E Williams - I Love Greed
Milton Friedman - Freedom vs Tyranny & Misery
a thin arm...don't like this......
If you know anyone at the FDIC, ask them about the recovery.
+B Gallagher.
But how is greed a crime?

We don't have government control over the internet and it works wonderfully. Another economy to examine is the "black" market. Everything runs smoothly because it's all based on trust. The freer a society, the more prosperous. Laissez faire has transformed Hong Kong from an impoverished nation to one which is at the top of economic progress. Freedom does not bring chaos but spontaneous order. The only limited government I favour is one which is solely there to ensure our freedom.

Which ugly aspects are you referring to?

I suppose space based manufacturing must have to do with manufacturing products in outer space. Sure, I'm completely for it if it makes economic sense and does not burden the taxpayer further. Should it be a worthwhile endeavour, private industry will gladly find a way to oblige.
The government does mine social media for important info.
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