The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

November 22, 2012

Five economic trends to be thankful for

There is a dirty little secret about economics writing. The thing that offers the surest path to glory to front page play for a story, to lots of Web traffic, to a pat on the back from editors is doom and gloom. When we can point out something that is awful, whether it is a collapsing job market or rising poverty or skyrocketing gasoline prices, the world seems a whole lot more interested in what we have to say. It's not for nothing they call economics the dismal science.

But Thursday is the day each year Americans set aside to give thanks for what they have, to bask in the good around them. So for Thanksgiving, this economics writer decided to cast aside the usual practice, fire up FRED (a database of economic statistics maintained by the St. Louis Fed), and keep looking until I found five trends that are unambiguously positive.

This is what I found; these are the things that Americans have to be grateful for in these times of economic challenge.

— Household debt is way down. For the quarter-century leading up to the great recession at the start of 2008, Americans accumulated ever-larger piles of debt, both in absolute terms and relative to the size of the economy. Home mortgages were the largest portion of that, but it also included credit cards, auto loans, and student loan debt. The good news is that in the past three years, Americans have made remarkable progress cleaning up their balance sheets and paying down those debts. After peaking at nearly 98 percent of economic output at the start of 2009, the household debt was down to 83 percent of GDP in the spring of 2012. That represents debt reduction of $636 billion, or more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child. It should be noted that some of the decline came about because of debt being written down (such as in mortgage foreclosures), not paid off. But the simple fact is that excessive household debt played a major role getting us into this mess; we're well on our way toward fixing it.

Text Only
Lifestyles
  • Revolver goes for $400 at auction CLINTON — Selling in two locations on June 21 proved to be a winner. I was selling in the first location with my son Jon and we had a strong bidding crowd. The second location had Jeff Lohr and Bill McWilliams holding firm with a nice crowd of bidder

    July 19, 2014

  • The Clinton Herald Jim Miller Low-cost, free cellphone options for seniors DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling SeniorDEAR SELDOM: For financially challenged seniors who only want a cell pho

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sawmill New event cruises into Clinton CLINTON — Three Gateway-area locations are joining together in August for a river heritage event.The event will be held Aug. 3 and will feature a Blue Heron river cruise, a Sawmill Museum tour and a de Immigrant Windmill tour in Fulton, Illinois. The

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Minnick Ashford director appointed to commission CLINTON —The Ashford University campus director has been appointed to a volunteer commission.Charlie Minnick, vice president/campus director of Ashford University, has been appointed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Ser

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Summer lunch menus (July 21 to 25)

    Summer lunch menus at Jefferson and Bluff Elementary Schools, and Generations Area Agency on Aging

    July 17, 2014

  • Ax throw, log climb at Adirondack lumberjack class PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. — Ax throwing is encouraged in lumberjack class. It’s also OK to dump your classmate in the lake — as long as you’re both frantically trying to stay upright on a floating log.The annual Adirondack Woodsmen’s School is being held thi

    July 17, 2014

  • Locally-grown foods look to bigger business

    Once a niche business, locally grown foods aren't just for farmers markets anymore.

    July 16, 2014

  • What happens to your online accounts when you die?

    You've probably decided who gets the house or that family heirloom up in the attic when you die. But what about your email account and all those photos stored online?

    July 16, 2014

  • Plenty of collectibles available at auction CLINTON — A nice walnut table hit a high mark of $95 at a recent auction. A small chest freeze sold for $82.50 and the electric stove heated up for $85. A window air conditioner kept everyone cool with a bid of $45, lawn chairs sold for $20, the Plan

    July 12, 2014

  • Talent show Fair to display talent show DEWITT — Children and adults next weekend in DeWitt will compete for an opportunity to participate in the Iowa State Fair.The Bill Riley Talent Search will be held at 2 p.m. July 20 at the Clinton County Fair in DeWitt. The show is open to the public

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.