2008 vs. 1992: Economic Scene

by: Barry Ritholtz

Wednesday's chart porn (below) comes from the NYT: A Revival of 1992’s Glum Mood.

The current situation was summed up by David Leonhardt:

"Economists argue about the reasons for the great wage slowdown — technology, globalization, health care costs, the decline of unions, the rise of the new wealthy — but it clearly seems to have made people feel more vulnerable to small economic swings. In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, only 19 percent of those responding said the country was headed in the right direction. That was the lowest percentage since the early 1990s.

This glumness is especially striking because perceptions of the economy usually lag behind reality, and the reality hasn’t deteriorated much yet for most families. But as in 1992, said Alan Blinder, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, “people are more sour about the economy than the data would seem to warrant." (emphasis added)

Leonhardt comes very close to resolving the conundrum, but alas, he gets it wrong in the end. At the very least, he fails to consider an alternative explanation: The measured economic readings -- inflation, growth, unemployment, job creation, real income -- are far less accurate than many people perceive them to be . . .

Courtesy of NYT

Economic Scene: A Revival of 1992’s Glum Mood
NYT, SECTION C - PAGE 1 January 16, 2008