questionsis the economy actually on the mend?

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I don't think gas prices have doubled. They've increased for sure, but they do that every Spring/Summer. As for the question is the economy on the med I suspect it would depend on who you asked. If they're Rightwing types they'll say No not at all. Leftwing types will say yes.

As for me I've had a Job through the whole downturn. I also bought a car and a house. I'm probably lucky. My mom lost her job and was without a job for some time.

Economists I've heard say things are turning around, faster than Republicans say but slower than Democrats say. I'd honestly go with the number crunchers over the politicians any day.

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The economy has improved in various sectors, but the national debt is going to kill us.

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gas prices have dropped a dime in the last week here in california.

Personally, I think they may be another dip or two in the "recovery", and I don't think the economy will be back to "normal" for at least 5-7 years. I figure it'll be 2018 before we see unemployment under 6% and growth above 4.5%.

Remember, for college grads the real unemployment rate right now is around 4-4.5%, so if you've got a degree, you're still going to do alright.

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I agree that there are areas where things are improving; there is still much that needs to come back too life.

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@klozitshoper: not just the national debt, but state, county, and city debt as well. I think the most recent estimates in the news was that those 3 combined exceed the national debt. so combine those with the national debt, and in reality the total is over $30 trillion in debt.

California is probably one of the worst, they're still trying to ram through a $100 billion rail project that there is no money for, and the democrat majority in the legislature is made up almost entirely of former union bosses and liberal lawyers that have no interest in controlling costs. Several large california cities are on the verge of bankruptcy, Stockton stopped paying it's bills about 3 months ago and is currently in court being sued by wells fargo to foreclose on the city's parking garages. LA and San diego are probably next.

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The simple answer is no.

Until politicians reign in the tax and offshore holding loopholes and stop playing the debt/deficit card as an excuse not to invest the necessary money in our infrastructure, you won't see any long standing improvement. Virtually every improvement we've seen since the beginning of 2008 was engineered as a stop gap measure by the fed to try and kick start private sector spending. QE I, QE II, and the unofficial QE III have all failed to encourage the necessary private sector spending. The true fix is a two or three trillion dollar federal investment in our crumbling infrastructure. That won't happen because the republicans have been able to scare the public with their debt talk so politicians at all level are afraid to make the necessary decisions.

You'll continue to see small ups and downs but large scale improvement is many years away. Auto fuel is not a good indicator of overall economic health. It's an indicator of how wall street felt ~18 months ago.

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The general public thinks not. So, if you've got cash and you're in the market for a collector quality car, it'd be hard to beat the deals you could get right now as opposed to 3 or 4 years ago.
The same is true with most things though- most items are remarkably negotiable right now.