Does Washington Care About the Economy Anymore?

More

With the Dow plunging 300 points Wednesday afternoon, manufacturing hitting the skids, and job creation in jeopardy, it's worth remembering what a weird year it's been.

Five months ago, you could have said about the economy (minus housing), Nothing is deteriorating, everything is getting better -- slowly. The numbers agreed. Every major economic signal was improving.

januaryeconomy.png

When my colleague Dan Indiviglio, who compiles these graphs every month, looked at the latest figures, the yellow and red crept in. Consumer confidence in May (not included in the chart below) is at a six month low. Suddenly, almost nothing is improving, and everything is slowing down.

april.png

The economy has been weak before. But this time is different. In 2009, we got the stimulus and quantitative easing. In 2010, we got a big tax cut. In 2011, we get ... nothing. The stimulus has wound down, the Federal Reserve bows out next month, and gas prices have all but offset the tax breaks.

Economic growth has found another wall to hit, but the reaction on Capitol Hill is almost dada in its abstractness. Republicans are debating whether or not the fastest route to growth leads through a debt default. Moderate Democrats like Ben Nelson agree that Congress' first step must be to cut spending to domestic programs. Tens of millions of families underwater or out of work must be asking themselves: Does the government care about us anymore? The plans coming out of Washington are like answers to a totally separate question.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In