The Big Mess
As WJC coined the phrase "Its the economy stupid" Yes thats true today as then but its pretty complicated and made worse so by political polarization, some class warfare,finger-pointing,and major disagreement over how to make things better.
Unemployment is high at 8.5% ,underemployment is high, and those that quit looking for work is high.together they are a formidably and demoralizing force.While this is bad in its own right, what is more bothersome as that the old fixes that worked in the past ie time and the business cycle, low [historically] interest rates , increased money supply, and government stimulus just have not worked as well as in the past.
There are some good but weak signs.Some jobs in the private sector are being created,manufacturing is picking up, hours worked are expanding but none of this at a clip that will result in any noticeable pick up in employment numbers.The only sector adding jobs at a fast pace is government employment which i see as nonproductive.
We also have the high rate of mortgage delinquency, foreclosures, high personal debt. [ we are not savers ] reduced personal wealth [housing collapse ] and other assorted issues but these are the biggies.