We have a malaise

Let us not kid ourselves. If our economy was a patient the doctors would be worried.

Here are a few notes the docs would make: The economy is growing at half the pace most economists predicted. It is growing slower than it did last year.

The job numbers are awful. Real unemployment is probably about 15%. That is a nasty condition. We need to create 150,000 jobs a month just to keep up with new workers who join the job market. Last three months weíve averaged maybe 75,000.

Meanwhile, our education systems fail us. There are only 3 developed nations where people in their 20ís have poorer educations than their parents. Ours is one of those three. Not good.

Many Americans attack and envy the so-called top 1% of earners. Well, they should be happy. Top earnersí income fell 37% during the recession. Their drop in income was 18 times greater than the fall in income of other groups. Economists know that top earners create lots of jobs for others. They are not pleased to see top earners lose ground.

Meanwhile, consumers are losing confidence. And they have less disposable income than they had last year. They cannot spend what they donít have. And when their confidence dips they spend less of what they do have.

The Eurozone is in recession. They are major customers. Chinaís economy is slowing. So are some of the emerging market economies. All major customers of our companies.

Many of our big companies are already slowing. Their profit growth rates are weakening. So they are cutting their capital spending by two-thirds. Capital spending creates jobs. What do you suppose happens when that spending declines?

At the end of the year we face a cliff. A bunch of taxes will go up. A bunch of spending cuts will begin. Virtually every economist says these will cripple us. A weak economy like ours cannot take these jolts. So the politicians will have to do something to soften them. What will they do? Nobody knows. Uncertainty reigns.

Indeed, this is the Age of Uncertainties.

The election is uncertain. The makeup of the new congress? The winner of the White House? Still too early for many people to feel they know.

Until they know, nobody can predict whether Obamacare will survive. If it is closed down, nobody can predict what will follow.

Who can project and plan in the face of these uncertainties? Certainly not our businesses. Not our entrepreneurs. Not with any confidence.

Our political situation is a muddle for now. Millions of voters believe the Presidentís policies worked. They kept us from falling into a terrible depression. Millions of voters believe they have made matters worse.

Result: Gridlock in the Congress, home to the representatives of those voters. Gridlock in the White House. Most of the gurus who created the Presidentís economic policies have deserted him. The second-string replacements are mum these days. No one dares push for dramatic policy changes. The advisors who run the campaign will shut them up. The campaign is more important than policy right now.

We have a malaise. And too many Americans feel trapped in it. And by it. At some point Sir Lancelot is supposed to gallop in on a white charger to rescue the economy. According to the polls, a big majority of Americans see no Lancelot. They see the President on a limping pony. Only a small percentage feel confident about his leadership on the economy. The polls tell us more people have confidence in Romney on the economy. But hardly to white charger levels.

And as for Congress? When it comes to running the economy, most Americans equate them to what these steeds leave behind in the stable.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tomís radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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