The Daily Beast
December 28, 2011
By, Zachary Karabell
Years from now, when we look back at 2011, it may be remembered as one of the best worst years of the early 21st century. You’d be hard-pressed to come up with an extended period where people were more negative, yet remarkably, in the United States at least, not much actually happened. A summer debt impasse looked dramatic but in the end was resolved, and markets went up and down wildly yet ended largely where they started or better. Judged by every major economic indicator, it was the most stable period in a long while, with every sign that 2012 will be better yet. There is only one not-so-small problem: almost no one believes it.
In the current climate, even suggesting that things are OK can generate virulent reactions. How can one say that the economy is decent when tens of millions of people are unemployed, underemployed, discouraged, or don’t get paid enough to keep them above the poverty line? When the global financial system remains imperiled by a European sovereign-debt crisis that nearly exploded in November and is by no means fully resolved? And when the best the U.S. can hope for is a level of growth well below that of the second part of the 20th century and far less than most people expect or desire?