Nothing beats contentment

At the Upshot Neil Irwin expresses “happy feelings”:

If people in your office seem to be tingling with excitement this week, it is probably because of all the big economic news on the way. The two biggest regular United States economic reports are scheduled to come out, with first-quarter gross domestic product on tap for Wednesday and April jobs numbers out on Friday. Federal Reserve policy makers are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday for one of their regular sessions to set the nation’s monetary policy. And a variety of other important data releases are coming, including personal income and spending, manufacturing and home prices.

What, no tingling? You’re not alone. Because as important as all that stuff is, it is substantially less important, and less interesting, than it has been any time in the last seven years. The economy has gotten boring, and that’s fantastic news — even if it would be even better news if that underlying growth path were a bit stronger.

So why do I take this consistency as such good news, even though it is slower than the kind of growth that would rapidly return the nation to a position of full economic health?

Because it is a sign that the nation has gotten out of crisis mode. No longer does another downturn seem to lurk around every corner. Corporate executives have spent the last several years complaining about uncertainty hanging around the economy. Now the economy — and business confidence — seems to take even potentially damaging episodes, like the government shutdown last October, in stride.

And that´s because we´re afraid of what might have been:

While 3 or 4 percent growth would be better, steady repair of the economy beats a return of a boom-bust cycle that might have accompanied a quicker recovery, particularly if it had been driven by a return to bubble-era housing construction.

My take is different. “Deep holes” have been dug in employment and output and we´re just too “content” to go out and work to “fill them up”!

2 thoughts on “Nothing beats contentment

  1. “steady repair of the economy beats a return of a boom-bust cycle that might have accompanied a quicker recovery”

    I think Mr. Irwin might be forgetting a multitude of somebodies who are still left behind. No, foreclosures, repos, potential starvation aren’t better. I’d much rather take my chances with boom-bust.

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