Economy Is Closer To Optimum Than Depression

Perhaps not, says the redoubtable and often pessimistic Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post. His lead:

"Regarding the economy, it's hard not to notice this stark contrast: The "real economy" of spending, production and jobs--though weakening--is hardly in a state of collapse; but much of today's semi-hysterical commentary suggests that it is."

While some commentators are saying we are at risk of going not into recession but into depression, Samuelson points out that unemployment in the 1930s averaged 18 percent. That's almost four times the current rate of 4.8 percent. Does anyone expect unemployment to quadruple any time soon? Sure, we have some economic problems. But we're closer to the optimum than to a depression.

By Michael Barone