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Barry Ritholtz

Why So Many Hate This Recovery

There are three main reasons for the pessimism.
From here, the economy looks awful.

From here, the economy looks awful.

Photographer: Laura Buckman/Bloomberg

There has been a steady drumbeat of dissatisfaction about the post-credit-crisis recovery. No matter how much the economy improves, a good number of people insist it hasn’t. Now, in the midst of the political silly season, it has intensified as candidates pander to voters.

This is a subject near and dear to me (see this, this, this, this, this, and this), and it came up again recently in a FiveThirtyEight column with the headline, "The Economy Is Better — Why Don’t Voters Believe It?" The column tells of a local business owner whose company is having a “record year.” Despite this, she is the leader of a local Tea Party group, whose view of the U.S. economy is, well, at war with the facts. “The Federal Reserve is devaluing the dollar” she said, despite the U.S. currency being the strongest in almost 13 years. “Inflation is too high,” even though it is running at less than 2 percent. “Taxes are too high,” even though most people pay some of the lowest effective rates in decades. And those statistics showing improvement in the economy? They are “misleading if not outright lies . . . The unemployment rate isn’t down.” Of course, at 5 percent it's the lowest in seven years.