Rage. Probably political rage. Maybe just personal rage. Lots of sarcasm and cynicism. Also pretty pictures.
The most important short-term problem is jobs. The human and social costs of unemployment are crippling – you stay poorer for a far longer time, your health is worse, you die younger, your children do worse in school, your family is more likely to break up, you are more likely to fall into poverty, you lose your trust in public institutions, and the social bonds that knit communities together dissipate. During this recession, unemployment spiked, and it hasn’t really fallen. This is a jobless recovery, quite different from the trajectory of past recoveries. There are a number of reasons for this. First, demand is still in a slump, and so firms are not producing. This is not too surprising in the aftermath of a major collapse in housing and financial markets. Second, the sorry state of the housing market is inhibiting mobility – it has become much harder to follow the jobs. So clearly, fixing the problems in the housing market is a priority. Other policies include direct hiring subsidies, payroll tax holidays, or a spurt of labor-intensive public investment in needed infrastructure. Sadly, none of these items are on the agenda. Instead of being the most important policy challenge, it is being ignored.