On the onset of 2011...
Many Americans have lost their confidence, one of the traits we are most known for. Our moxie has lost it's nerve and it's easy to understand why with the economic, social and political problems we are facing that, alas, are intertwined. Then again, many other Americans are in a happy recovery mode, which somehow seems surreal and more like denial.
I think I know why there are these two juxtaposing viewpoints.
Read or watch any media outlet and you can find both good news and bad news about the economy, social problems and political issues. Take your pick which you want to believe. My favorite example is the seemingly opposing stories, very often on the same page, headlined something like "Unemployment is down and job outlook improving" and another story with the seeming flip side headline "Personal income is down."
Well, yes...both are true because some people are getting jobs but they are lower paying. It's good news that is not coupled with the countering bad news in the same story. The media outlets spit the news in half chunks. Some people read the chunk they want to and others read both and either make connections between the two or they don't, for a variety of reasons.
The actuality is that we face significant social, economic and political problems in the coming year. The sovereign debt crisis in other countries will affect us, unemployment is still high and stagnant, the mortgage/foreclosure crisis is unresolved, debt overhang threatens financial institutions, we're at peak oil, there are global currency problems and the stock market is flirting with highs far too dangerous for the underlying fundamentals of the economy are among the major ones. The biggest problem is that postponing the inevitable by "Quantitative Easing" and keeping the money printing presses rolling, isn't working quite as hoped, preventing us from getting on with clearing up the certain aftermath that is coming after it all inevitably falls apart, which is likely to occur in 2011.
Which leads back to confidence, which I think we can regain. My belief is Americans are struggling with confidence because they feel a sense of pending doom and rightfully want to get it over with. The American way is to face a challenge head on and overcome it, not dilly dally with it like some European diplomat. The dominoes are lined up and with one slip they all fall. Let it happen so we may commence with picking up the pieces and rebuilding a real and sustainable recovery.
That's the kind of confidence and determination that Americans are best at. The malaise is caused by the political and business classes stretching out to maintain the old while the new is overdue waiting to be born.