Here’s a great post from Josh about the stock market’s general apathy that got me thinking about the macroeconomic picture. The post-crisis period has been a pretty extraordinary economic environment. What many people thought was a foray into a Great Depression style era has actually turned out to be a pretty amazing recovery. Check out some of these stats:
- Household net worth at record highs.¹
- US households spend less on necessities than ever. This “problem” is so bad that the loudest complaints are now about the cost of luxuries like a college education or healthcare.
- The misery index is plumbing 60 year lows.
- Real GDP is at all-time highs.
- The rate of change in inflation is close to all-time lows.
- Growth is low, but more stable than ever.
- Global life expectancy is improving dramatically.
- Child mortality has collapsed.
- The world has so much food that we are suffering from an obesity epidemic.
- The cost of that food has collapsed.
- We are experiencing exponential growth in technological advancements.
- The share of the world living in extreme poverty has collapsed.
- Global deaths due to mass conflicts are sharply declining.
- Violent crimes in the USA are near 30 year lows.
- Homicide rates around the world are collapsing.
One of the general themes of this blog has been the focus on all the bearish BS that people promote that just isn’t true. Yeah, I’ve busted waaaaaaaay too many of these nonsensical myths. But despite my efforts there is still a general sense of apathy out there. It’s nowhere more obvious than in the political climate. Yeah, there are things to be pissed off about, but they’re mostly distributional issues like income and wealth inequality, which are policy problems and not general economic problems.
Anyhow, don’t let the era of irrational apathy get you down. As Louis CK once said, “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy”. So yeah, the next time you’re sitting on a toilet reading your mobile phone at 30,000 feet just remember that things aren’t really that bad.²
¹ – The stock market is, arguably, the one place where there are reasonable arguments about excessive optimism. But I think we have to be careful implying that this is a bubble or an unsustainable bull market. While current stock market levels are consistent with above average risk in equities it does not mean that a crash is imminent.
² – I do not endorse sitting on airplane toilet seats.
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