2014 Might Turn Out to be a Fairly Good Year for the Economy


Analysts are starting to get optimistic about the economy:

Record exports and the smallest trade deficit in four years. Healthier consumer spending, including the strongest annual increase in automobile sales since 2007, spurred by a booming stock market and an improving housing sector. And a slow but steady pickup in job creation that has pushed unemployment to its lowest level since 2008.

….Just a few weeks ago, there were fears that 2013 would end on a sour note in terms of economic growth….But better-than-expected trade data on Tuesday, as well as an increase in consumer activity in October and November, prompted many economists to revise their estimates of growth in the fourth quarter sharply higher this week.

Dean Maki, chief United States economist at Barclays, now says he believes the economy expanded at an annualized pace of 3 percent in October, November and December, double his previous estimate….Mr. Maki attributes more than half of the gain in consumer spending to the surging stock market in 2013 and the steady recovery in real estate prices, the so-called wealth effect that has left shoppers feeling more confident.

Without getting too rosy-minded about things, I’m modestly optimistic too. Why? Because the proximate cause of our long, grinding downturn was too much debt, and in the second half of 2013 it started to look as if household deleveraging had finally run its course. With consumer debt now below the level of the mid-90s, there’s a decent chance that spending will pick up and the economy will come along with it. No one should expect sudden boom times, and long-term unemployment remains a national catastrophe, but 2014 could turn out to be a fairly decent year. We’ll get our first sign on Friday morning, when the Labor Department reports December jobs growth. If it’s over 200,000 again, that will be a good sign. If it’s closer to 250,000, that will be a great sign.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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