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TBD on Ning

It is just a number, a big one, but still a number. And yet, it means something else, means about $9 trillion in recovered wealth as the Dow Jones Industrial index has recovered to close at 14000, the first time since July, 2007.

So, do most Americans feel better than they did 5 years ago? Nope, most Americans are still challenged to do better. Then who are the beneficiaries of the recovery? Good question.

Most American corporations are, and the bigger the better. Labor unions aren't, organized labor is hanging on only in those businesses and industries that can't export demand for labor and yet are still able to sell and provide their products and services in closed, domestic markets, say, like government.

In the meantime those that did own stock have had a windfall of dividends and payments made to move stashes of cash into individuals' hands prior to the implementation of the tax hikes allowed in the fiscal cliff deal of last December. And for those employed, employed at certain levels, windfalls of bonuses and increased compensation to also mark the higher tax rates implementation.

So, clearly some are feeling better, much better about economic recovery, but then again only some.

And of course, some are saying this is only the giddy result of the lack of investment opportunity and the unrelenting pumping money into the financial system by the Fed to stimulate something, where action is only that, action of the presses, while the market makes money on money and not investing in new production, products and services that can cause real growth vs. the goal of just inflating the numbers, numbers that don't matter to most Americans.

The number that matters is 7.9% rate of unemployment and participation rate of 63.6%, not much better than the ongoing low of 63.5% in August of this cycle. And yes, over 150,000 jobs were added in January with revision in the 4th quarter to the newly employed upwards, but, for growth to occur that needs to be over 250,000 a month for an extended period of time to exceed job loss and increase in the potential labor force of this current financial cycle. And more worrisome, is that the pay level of recovery generated jobs is less than the ones that have been lost. And even more worrisome, is the high rate of structural job destruction.

So, necessary Doom and Gloom? Depends.

It depends certainly on one's viewpoint of half empty or half full, but then again you need a glass in the first place.

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Comment by Mandy Muffin on February 3, 2013 at 5:52am

For an investor the four years of Obama have not been bad.  If you didn't panic and sell all your equities after the 2007-8 stock market catastrophe and listened to your broker's advice, you are in great shape now.  At my age, I keep only 50% of my wealth in the equity markets.  IMHO, the stocks in America's fundamental industries and services are doing well because companies have adopted to the new environment.  That's what companies do, they adjust to survive and even excel.  In the meantime they have shed jobs, streamlined their organizations and modernized using the latest technology.  Also, some have expanded manufacturing off-shore.  I don't think much of this has been due to helpful government policies.  But I could be wrong. 

The labor market is something else, as the number of private jobs in America has shrunk and also participation in the labor force is at historic lows.  The growth has often been in government employment.  Many are suffering unemployment or underemployment.  The "shadow employment report" show an actual unemployment/under employment rate in the low 20% range, or nearly one-in-four.  http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts  If we don't increase the workers purchasing power the consequences are not pleasant to contemplate.  It is the beginning a house of cards that is built on government subsidizing the economy by jobs and deficit spending.  This is a not a solid foundation. 

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