So how is the economy doing? Your answer probably depends on whether you get your economic updates from official sources (Bureau of Labor Statistics and Congressional Budget Office) or Faux News and Republican Presidential candidates.
My opinion is that the economy, while still struggling, has steadily improved for the last 18 months. It's been doing better than the perception of how it's been doing. Part of the blame for this perception goes to the odd assortment of Republican candidates whose consistent theme has been that the economy sucks as long as Barack Obama is president. If the American people believe the economy is improving, none of the Republican candidates will become the next president.
Mostly, the economy is stubbornly independent despite what any president try to make it do, but governmental action can change things for the better or worse. The Republican controlled House of Representatives and the filibuster-controlled Senate have been committed to preventing any action that might stimulate the economy (except for giving tax cuts for the super-rich).
Those of you who I've talked politics with know that President Obama has been a great disappointment to me and just about everyone I know who was delighted when he was elected. Despite his foreign policy stands, gutless appointment decisions and moderate Republican stances on some social issues, I think he has done a fairly good
job on the economic front.
President Obama was elected shortly after the disastrous economic meltdown of 2008, and it took time before things started to turn around. Here are some indications of the direction of the economy and stock market:
• Unemployment is down to 8.5% from 9.4% a year ago and from its high of 10.0% in October of 2009. The number of non-farm jobs have been steadily increasing since February of 2010.
• The Rasmussen Consumer Confidence Index is at its highest level in a year. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/indexes/rasmussen_consumer_index/rasmussen_consumer_index
• Though it doesn't seem like it, the stock market (measured by the S&P 500) has increased by 58% since Obama took office. During George W. Bush's eight years in office, the S&P declined by 39%.
I expect gradual economic improvement to continue in 2012 barring some unexpected major event--of which there are too many to possibly worry about. I can't help it, I'm just an optimistic guy, and I think you have to be optimistic to be in this business for over 30 years.
Hope we all have a great 2012.