Ask the Readers: Are We Making a Comeback?

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  While the stock market doesn't always reflect the economy, the factors I use surely do."

  • Shaylasr No we are not coming out of the recession by a long fall. See wisebread for contest and excellent info on variety topics 5 days ago from web

The Huffington Post guest columnist Sen. Bernie Sanders isn't convinced. Newsweek is already calling for a new kind of recovery to celebrate the end of this historic disappointment.

So what's the deal? Are we seriously seeing the end of this recession? Or is this just a calm before a very bad storm? News analysts, finance gurus, and even the guy at the grocery store all have their opinions on whether this is the tail end of a painful spot in our economic history. The U.S. economy may very well have a long way to go, but there are some positive markers towards a recovery. What do you think? Are we finally getting out of the woods?

Share your thoughts here in our comment thread or on Twitter, and you'll be entered to win one of two $10 Amazon giveaways. It isn't enough to a make up for a bad investment year, but it can cover a few video on demand rentals for an evening of cheap entertainment. Dozens of readers have already won. You could be next!

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Guest's picture

I believe that thought creates reality therefore our collective fear is making a comeback from economic meltdown painfully slow.
I also think that the more we do for others will create the stone in the pond "ripple effect".
The economy has hit bottom and we are now making our way upwards!!

Guest's picture

I agree with the concept that we create our own reality. The more we think about lack, that is what we attract, more lack. I’m not interesting in creating lack, I’m interesting in creating a joyful life.

I have struggled in this economy but I can think of times in my career where I was caught more off-guard. Because of earlier experiences, I feel like I’m going to be OK in this economy.

In 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, I had just pulled myself out of debt. It took me 10 years to pay off that debt! Then I was laid off after the attacks. Although I wasn't in debt, I had no savings which was not comfortable terrain for me since I ended up being unemployed for over six months. Going back into debt was NOT an option!!

I promised myself at that time that WHEN the economy falters again, because it’s cyclical and it will go up and down, I will have an emergency fund of six months of salary saved. It took me such a long time to save six months of salary, but I did.

Fortunately, in this economy I managed to keep my job but I've been trying to sell a house from my divorce for over 2 years ago. I finally took a loss on the home just so that I could 'start a new chapter' in my life. I close on October 20th. It feels good to release it.

Real estate investments won't always yield a profit, just like the stock market won't either.

In this economy I've learned to:
1. Diversify my talents by moonlighting
2. Be more disciplined with how I'm spending my money.
3. Cut my losses when a negative experience is holding me down; regardless if that means a breakup or an investment
4. Stay out of debt and live within my means

I think the economy is coming back but like a pendulum that swings, it will take time to find its way back to a good rhythm.

All my best,

Guest's picture
Laurel Larsen-Sokes

Ask the person on the street that no longer has a home, ask the people who have to choose buying food for their families over medication. Ask my children: one still on unemployment, one in a homeless housing project with her family, one will not be able toafford they payment on her house once the payments from the bail-out loan go into place, another struggling to find medical care for her two children and herself when needed with her hours cut to about 5 hours or less a week. The people I know and talk to are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills. We're not eating out, we are challenged to have money for gas to go to work and I'm thankful to have a part-time job, even as an RN. I need to find creative ways to make a chicken last for several meals.
Those that have money are still going out to eat, still spending money, still buying cars, still going on vacations, still buying expensive handbags. They're spending like there is no tomorrow. They seem unaffected by the fact that people are homeless, starving and have no medical care. I think they're in denial as are anyone else that thinks the recession is getting better.

Guest's picture

to me the recession will NOT be over until we get back to a reasonable level of unempoyment (5-6 ish %)and the return on investment/bonds reachess historicql levels of the last 25+ years.

Guest's picture

There's a long way to go, but the comeback is starting. Unemployment numbers have historically lagged a couple years behind recoveries from recessions, so it's still gonna be tough for most people for a while, but most of the indicators point to the fact that we have turned things around.

Guest's picture
Connie Walsh

There are some things in the economy that seem out of whack. It doesn't seem like it is over, but if it is I will happily accept that.

Guest's picture

I think we have a ways to go before this recession is over.

Guest's picture

The buzz on Wall Street is that things are getting worse at a much slower pace. The rate at which we are shedding jobs has slowed. The pace at which housing prices have plummeted has slowed. They see this as indications that the economy is nearing or has basically reached a bottom and the expectation is that things will slowly but steadily get better from here.

For me, when we see the unemployment rate begin to actually decrease I'd say the recession is over. Yes, the unemployment rate is usually a lagging indicator but it is also a definitive one.

By that standard the recession isn't over.

Guest's picture

The economy may be improving, but the recession is far from over.

Guest's picture
Jessica W

I think we're making a comeback, but I think it's not because the economy is getting better, but instead because people are getting smarter. More bargian-hunting, more budgeting, more getting out of debt. I think this is the kind of comeback that will last a long time if we keep it up.

Guest's picture

I think we're slowly coming back- but the mixed messages of 'be smarter, save your money' and 'the economy is suffering from people not buying things' will counteract one another and confuse consumers. Even if it's true!

Guest's picture

Given the fact that no one is hiring and the unemployment rate is at a very high level, I think we will be slow getting out of this one.

Guest's picture
Jan O

I don't think we've seen the worst of it in many parts of the US yet. That being said, the hardest hit areas may already be heading back up.

Guest's picture

My husband's company laid off 60 more people yesterday. Out of it? Nope. Our city has forecasted our housing values will not increase for at least 5 years. All that "feel good" talk is worthless.

Guest's picture

I think we're on our way to recovery, but it's definitely going to be a slow climb. If things do get worse, I think we'll be more prepared than we were before.

Guest's picture

I'd like to think this recession is ending. My husband's 401(k) is doing much better, but unemployment is still sky-high, so who knows?

Guest's picture

Sure.. I bet the recession is over.. but 'comeback'... what does that mean? The market already came back.. profits for corporations have come back... but that's because people got laid off and are losing houses left and right.. have no jobs and the unemployment will continue to 'come back' to higher and higher amounts...

Guest's picture

We have a long way to go, but if we keep making progress, I think that by 2012, things might be slightly more "normal."

Guest's picture

There's a difference between the economy "turning around" and the "recession being over." When you are on a trip, the point where you turn around is the exact same thing as the point where you are farthest from where you started. It's still a long journey back home.

Guest's picture

I'm inclined to agree with what my Macroeconomics professor said earlier this month -- we're in the lowest point we'll be and the business cycle's going to start going back up. Now, how long that takes has yet to be seen... But I don't see it getting much worse from this point on, so everything should be a positive step, albeit small ones.

I'm also inclined to agree that measuring unemployment is rather useless... It really has little to do with the state of the economy itself. It'll probably go up as the economy begins to recover anyhow. People seem to like to cite statistics they don't fully understand, and this recession has made a bunch feel like economists themselves. (I have yet to decide if I want to double-major in Economics, it's an interest of mine.)

Guest's picture

No, the recession is not over. Things are picking up slowly, some mergers are happening, some are finding new jobs and some are regrouping by going back to school and retraining for new careers.
Overall, I think people are learning to do more with less. A lesson that many learned during WWII etc. There is a lot more that can pick up - construction, hiring in the public sector, using the unemployed to assist with public works etc.
When the recession started - there were questions regarding that; I think it's quite clear that it hasn't ended yet.

Guest's picture

I believe that many of the jobs lost are not going to return. The jobs where folks assemble things on an assembly line all day for a decent wage (compared globally) are history. Essentially, many of the jobs that involve "doing" are going away.

The US is going to have to retrain people to use their brains a little more and that means investing in education...


Guest's picture

I think we're still in the recession. Perhaps the "it's over!" battle cry is either wishful thinking or trying to rally consumers to spend more/stimulate the still hurting economy. I think it will be a while before things are back to "normal". Judging from the mostly empty stores and restaurants in my area I don't think most people are very confident yet about the financial tides turning.

Guest's picture

I don't think the recession will truly be over until unemployment starts coming down. The stock market may have rebounded, but that only helps the people who have enough money to invest. The millions of people out of work don't care if the S&P 500 goes up. There are promising signs, but we certainly can't breathe a collective sigh of relief yet.

Guest's picture

I'm bad with details, but I remember reading that a huge batch of risky mortgages is about to turn over - like, bigger than the first wave of destruction. So I suspect things will get much worse before they get finally better.

Guest's picture

I do think we are seeing some encouraging turnarounds. But I also think it will be a long recovery process, not a quick fix. I also think that we may never get back to what we considered "normal" before this recession. We may very well have to adjust to a new "normal". I hope that new normal includes some big changes in things like regulation of the financial industry and health care delivery. These are big issues and in themselves won't be quick fixes either. It may take some failed attempts and some trial and error, which may be painful. But we can do it. We are a resilient, resourceful nation and we can do this.

Guest's picture
LNo Smith

House prices here in my NW suburb seem to be going back up. But there are still several empty and foreclosed on houses, sales still taking a long time. My DH's place of employment, a rather large insurance company started some big layoffs 2 weeks ago, and this is a first for them. A good friends family recently lived in a shelter for 2 months, and are still trying to recover. I don't see that the economy is recovering.

Guest's picture
pam munro

The banks may be back to their evil ways (on our $) - but people around me are very cranky about $ & no one has any & at hubby's job mgmt. is taking advantage of the bad job mkt to squeeze its employees to the point of being illegal (by not paying for all hrs. really worked)- We have no choice, however, due to lack of other jobs - I have always pinched pennies - so a lot of this is normal for me - Almost...

Guest's picture
carol lambert

If the recession is waning my
Financial statement has not received the memo.

Guest's picture

My husband was laid off earlier this year (company was bought and closed), graduated with his MBA this summer, took a paycut/title cut in order to have a job while many of his coworkers are still looking (and this is in Biotech where people are educated, specialized and have (in the past) been needed). he is not using his MBA but at least he has a job.

The month after he took the new job, I was laid off from a finance position (executive level) but negotiated part time through the end of the year.

Until people start working again this recession will not be over. When ALL industries are being hit across the board, I don't see any positive signs. Companies are still quietly reducing staff in finance and biotech as well as other areas.

Guest's picture

I'm thinking yes. I feel as if people are tired of being worried and scared. I also think I'll have an easier time finding a job graduating in May 2010 as opposed to May 2009, as my cousin did.

Guest's picture

Defnintely heading into a rough patch. Our economy is unstable as we are still consuming far more than we are producing.

Guest's picture

Like many here, I think we are far from being finished with this recession. Not only are unemployment rates frightening, but the availability of social services has greatly diminished over the past year plus as more and more people need such services. Every day I see more local businesses closing, with no new businesses filling their spaces for months, or more. Its still really sad up here in Portland, OR.

Guest's picture

How on earth can it ever get better when our jobs are getting outsourced? I think our standard of living will always be lower as long as we are in a service-based economy.

Guest's picture

I think things are turning around. I went to a publishing trade show this weekend and saw a lot of optimism: companies starting new projects, people looking ahead and not over their shoulders. Of course, there are fewer companies now than there were two years ago, but the ones that are left seem stable and ready to grow a bit.

On the other hand, at work I'm seeing the effects of long-term unemployment—people who were laid off a year or more ago and have exhausted their savings and their benefits. Even those who are back at work are struggling with debts from their period of unemployment.

The recession was a short, sharp shock, but the long-term trend is also dismal—wages have been stagnant for years relative to the cost of living. This is especially true in the Northeast, where housing prices have stayed high. True recovery will require not only more jobs but also better pay (and benefits) so that working people will be able to maintain a decent standard of living and set a bit aside. Otherwise, the next dip will send them spiraling into debt again.

Guest's picture

I think we are in for a long rough go before we recover. We didn't build the excess in the market overnight and we won't wash it out overnight or even over the last year. We may not get as bad as the Great Depression but we will have something to talk to our grandkids about. I wrote two blog posts on it over the last 6 weeks. I think both are still relevant.

Stock Market Prediction 2009

Updated Stock Market Prediction

While the stock market doesn't always reflect the economy, the factors I use surely do.

Guest's picture

It may sound weird to say but I honestly don't care if the recession is over or not. When the economy first started to tank I watched the news and read everything I could about it, but at this point I've just stopped watching the news (can't stay away from the paper).

I was starting to live a "frugal" lifestyle before the recession hit and I will continue after. I don't plan to change any of my spending habits whether or not we return to "normal".

I hope this is a wake up call to many Americans - lets not fall back into the old overspent lifestyle once we think the clouds have lifted. .

~ Meg

Guest's picture

I hope we're finally recovering! My guess was 2010, but now works, too....

Financial Samurai's picture

I was in serious disbelief in June after our 50% rally in the stock market. Now I BELIEVE! The bus I take to work everyday is packed to the brim. Traffic is horrendous. I couldn't get a dinner reservation at the local Prime Rib House until 10pm, when in the past I could call the morning of and get a decent 7pm slot on any day. This was a Sunday!

There's a serious amount job movement in the finance industry still and it's almost October! I firmly believe Spring 2010 is going to be a job opportunity frenzy. Firms overfire in the downturn and then over hire in the upturn. We're in the upturn!


Financial Samurai
"Slicing Through Money's Mysteries"

Guest's picture

IMO it is still too early to say that there is much staying power in this current "comeback". There are simply too many negatives still out there that would give me pause. Rising unemployment, the decreased availability of consumer credit, and the rising consumer credit card default rates are all things that would prevent any kind of short term comeback.

Guest's picture

Things may look like they're getting slightly better, but the fact is the President/Congress has done nothing to help the private sector, so there will continue to be job losses. Unemployment is very high and people are afraid to spend their money. The only sector that is gaining jobs is the government. I think it will continue to get worse until we can hopefully kick a whole lot of people out of Congress next year and replace them with people who will abide by the Constitution.

Guest's picture

These are the indicators for a recession.
1) 6 month drop in the GNP
2) decrease of real personal income
3) drop in employment rate
4) lower industrial production
5) lower wholesale and retail sales

When these areas improve or at least stabilize, then we're turning around. Until then, we're not.

Guest's picture
Bargain Addict

I think that if you take a look around at all the poverty, homelessness, unemployment, forclosures, food pantries that can't keep up with the demand, etc, etc, it seems to me that we are no where near ending this recession.

Guest's picture

I think technically that the recession is ending. Once GDP goes positive thats an official end to the recession. It will take a while for jobs to recover and for peoples confidence to rebound but I think we're starting to turn around.

Guest's picture
Bargain Addict

I tweeted but I don't know how to give you the "address" but it is Shaylasr at Twitter.

Guest's picture

The numbers used to identify the presence and end of a recession may tell us that "it's over". But my experience tells me this recession is far from over. I see some hopeful signs -- at work, they've actually found some money for training (always one of the first cutbacks when times are bad), and housing prices have rebounded some.

But I also notice that, when I call a handyman for a home project, even the best of them are available in a couple of days -- they're not busy. We keep hearing about the next wave of foreclosures -- not speculators this time but "normal" people who are in houses they can no longer afford now that their hours or jobs were cut back or their ARMs adjusted. And the government has gamed the numbers on employment so long that they're meaningless in terms of who actually is employed gainfully and who simply has accepted underemployment or given up totally.

On top of that, we can't go back to where we were. It's simply unsustainable. The money sources for the consumers who propped up this economy for years are gone -- equity investments, deferred compensation, home equity, all gone. We've farmed out so much of our manufacturing capability that it would take big changes to shift that momentum. And we've spent years -- maybe decades -- playing accounting games by taking the funding of wars off the books and by shaving infrastructure costs to the point where expensive repairs are needed, not just catching up on maintenance.

No, this isn't over. And when it is, it won't look like it did.

Guest's picture
Jennifer P

I don't know about other parts of the country, but where I am at in the Midwest is still losing jobs and businesses daily. We are running out of unemployment money and other state funds are low. Welfare is overrun with applications and everyday you see more and more people heading to places that offer free food and help. It is a scary time, and we are one of the families that has been hit. I know we will make it through this with our faith and each other, but while we live like this it is hard. I hope it ends soon and the economy turns around, but it is still going to take a long time to climb back out of the hole, so for now I say NO it has not ended, but maybe started to end.

Guest's picture

Rich folks are doing great. Look at all that government money they got.

Poor folks are doing sh--. They didn't get anything, and are getting poorer.

This "recovery" is just another bubble - a bubble that Wall Street's now re-inflating for their own benefit. It'll pop again, because the poor people will drag down the economy with their unending unemployment, lack of healthcare, defaulting on debts, etc.

BTW - did you all know that 75% of new defaults are people walking away from the mortgage? They have great, above average credit, high incomes, and simply make a strategic fiscal decision to get foreclosed.

I agree with what @sd wrote.

We can only hope we'll bite the bullet and change our economy. More likely, we'll take the easy way out, and make more bubbles.

We also need to re-tax the rich and create some baseline social welfare to prevent homelessness.

Guest's picture

As long as the richest 1% have 95% of the wealth in America, it's not going to be over. Anyone that thinks things are getting better for the average American is living in a dream world. I don't care what the technical definitions might be, reality continues to suck.

Guest's picture
Mariel Martinez

The question about the economy in the US (or in any country for that matter), should be what is it based upon? In the US, the case is CREDIT. Here the average person owes about 9 000 $, that is nine thousand!!!! How are people supposed to improve, when they are DEBT SLAVES? Recession for the US means: We cannot pay you anything anymore, you have to WAIT untill we can come up with a better financial plan for the whole society and pay you back. Meanwhile, we are taking a recess from shopping, payments, witholding lifes, whatever it takes to get back on the road... And in this case, the whole society is collapsing withing itself... The goverment is BUYING more time, but because of those actions they are taking, prices of everything will eventually go up, because the currency is worth less and less for everyone in the global environment where the sensation is the US won´t pay on time... Just look at the numbers of the foreign debt... If they are not close to CERO, then , you will always have recession and economic problems...

Guest's picture

I sure hope so. Of course if the world ends in 2012 then I guess it doesn't matter much anyway :)

Guest's picture

Gordon Brown is certainly over qualified in economics, but I have had to endure a year of frustration with the way he has handled our banks, as for Alistair Darling, well I wouldnt hire him as an Office manager in my company, Let alone give him responsibility to manage how the banks lend our money. I mean why is Mr Darling still in a job? how have we allowed our banks to hoard our money to make there balance sheet is up to scratch and also using it to make sure low risk investments in order to repay the government asap. I feel that the senior management at lloyds group and RBS must be celebrating at how they now got all our money to give themselves bonuses. The have left the public high and dry, showing a complete lack of respect for Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown....and what do they do about it???? absolutely nothing