This graph (hat-tip Mish) indicates that it really is different this time. What is happening to the US economy is unlike anything in the post-war period.
Any kind of long-term planning based on the post-war economic track-record is now worthless. Anything you might be depending upon (pensions, annuities, standard retirement-planning) based on that kind of planning is no longer dependable.
So, fundamentally, what is it that is different?:
- Too much debt finally starting to bite.
- The post-war economic edge the USA had has significantly dimished and it can't expect to be "number 1" in everything any more because that edge was an anomoly (not truly "normal").
- Peak oil and resource scarcity is starting to bite.
- The corruption of the political system and its relative size are now big enough that the parasite is killing the host.
- The modern technology has eliminated the possibility of high-paying work for a large share of Americans by either automating it out of existence (e.g. word-processing, email, calendar software and voice mail obsoleting secretaries, minimizing the number of book-keepers, auto workers, etc.) or by making it too easy to off-shore them to cheaper labor (programmers, call-centers, assembly-line).
- All of the above.
What's the best hope for this turning around? How should I play it (adapt to it) and help those who I might influence adapt to it? These are the questions I'm asking.
P.S., The above chart is the best supporting evidence for the idea that, for main-street, the recession never ended. What's your best table/graph supporting that idea?