This Is What a Recovery Looks Like: Ritholtz Chart

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg View columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He blogs at the Big Picture and is the author of “Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy.”
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Today's chart comes from David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates in Toronto. It shows the real (seasonally adjusted) peak in income dating back to the 1970s.

Rosenberg thinks that the focus on income inequality and on the top 1 percent is distracting everyone from actual improvements. Contrary to conventional wisdom, nominal wage trends are now running at their fastest growth pace in almost five years.

Beyond the data, there are lots of anecdotes to slap down the negativity. For example, car sales are booming and confidence measures are back to pre-crisis highs.

Here's Rosenberg:

Seattle Seahawks game was sold out last night, even as the average NFL ticket prices are up 3.5 percent this year. I think there is too much negativity in the media today. Things are not nearly as bad as they are made to look ... There is a bull market in bellyaching.

Wage growth and consumer spending are modest but that is to be expected in a period of deleveraging.

Rosenberg, a Canadian, writes this about income inequality in the U.S.:

Expectations have changed and become too lofty. The U.S. has always been skewed in favor of the rich because that has always been the U.S. model ... the "pursuit" of success is what has made America what it is.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Barry L Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net