The last few years of the U.S. economy have been like one of any dozen CBS procedural dramas, where despite several mid-episode twists and the occasional cliff-hanger, the broader plot development is minimal and the resolutions are rather predictable.
For example, take the granddaddy statistic of economic growth: GDP. The government reported this morning that GDP grew at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2014, which is great. We snapped back from an abysmal negative-2.1 percent doozie in the first quarter, which was terrible. The previous six months of growth were the best half-year of growth since the first W. Bush administration, which was great.
So many twists! But when you add them all up, you get with an average rate of growth that looks, well ... procedural.
GDP Growth: A Steady Meh
Or take the employment picture, which is more interesting, not only because job creation more directly touches our lives, but also because we get a new reading every month.
Job creation appears to implode one month and crush expectations a few weeks later, but the broader picture is also one of subtle but consistent improvement. We created 173k jobs/month in 2011; 186k jobs/month in 2012; 194k jobs/month in 2013, and 230k jobs/month in the first half of this year. If, in December 2010, you had said, "you know, we created about 190,000 jobs per month in the last two months, and should probably create about that many jobs per month for the next four years, with slow, jagged improvement every few seasons," that sort of hot take might not have booked you any cable news gigs, but it would have been dead-on.