Why The U.S. Economy Could Go Haywire

Thursday, February 23, 2012
By Paul Martin

by Dan Dorfman

Americans participating in a recent Gallup poll showed the highest level of confidence in an economic recovery in a year. Sounds great, but you can’t ignore the nearly 13 million unemployed, the 46 million people on food stamps and the roughly 29% of the country’s homeowners whose mortgages are under water. They would find it hard to subscribe to the poll’s sunny conclusion. On the other hand, there’s no getting away from a bevy of seemingly increasingly favorable economic data, which, more recently, includes falling weekly jobless claims, four consecutive monthly gains in the leading economic indicators, somewhat perkier retail sales and a pickup in housing starts and business permits. Pounding home this cheerful view is the media’s growing drumbeat of increased economic vigor.

Confused? How can you not be? But President Obama has to be elated at this widely perceived peppier economy. During much of his presidency, he’s been roasted by some critics as an economic illiterate, with one Internet poster recently reading: “Obama had a dream and we got a nightmare.” Now, though, thanks to the public’s growing acceptance of the idea that things are getting better, Obama’s approval ratings are on the rise. Even a number of his Wall Street critics are starting to acknowledge his chances of winning a second term have greatly improved and some believe he’s almost a shoo-in should the current economy continue to pick up steam.

The favorable economic news has also been a big plus for the stock market, what with equities off to a rousing start in 2012 and the Dow recently ballooning to a four-year-high of around the 13,000 level.

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