International Economics

Cheerful Russians and Gloomy Americans: What's the World Coming To?


Pew economy

If misery loves company, then the U.S. is in luck: Three-quarters of countries surveyed by Pew Research Center think their economies suck more than last year.

The notable exceptions: India, China, and (weirdly) a newly super-optimistic Russia.

Naturally, those of us who have it pretty good are the biggest whiners: "Some of the most negative evaluations of economic conditions come from citizens of advanced Western countries. Positive views of the economy have declined sharply over the past year in Great Britain, the United States and Spain."

Check out the data here.

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  1. Fuckin’whiners.

  2. Haven’t many variables used to measure quality-of-life been trending steadily downward (in America) over the past 35 years or so? Chances for advancement? Average income relative to inflation? etc.

  3. They are not the ones most suffering from Keynesian fiscal policies. Note most of the safe developing countries are monetarist and the most resilient of them Hong Kong is borderline Austrian.

  4. Russians are happy for the same reason Americans are gloomy–oil prices.

  5. Once again, Mr. Gramm was right.

  6. Haven’t many variables used to measure quality-of-life been trending steadily downward (in America) over the past 35 years or so?

    I don’t see how this could be true for major indicators of material well-being.

    I would expect,say, ownership of real estate, number of cars per capita, number of major appliances per capita, have all gone up since 1973.

    Life expectancy has gone up since then. I would also expect that the percentage of people with college degrees has also gone up. Inflation and unemployment are both down.

    Now, if you’re talking about the gap between what people have and what they want, well, I think we’re back to the nation of whiners.

  7. R C Dean-

    I could go out tomorrow with my credit card and buy all kinds of neat stuff. I’d also be up to my eyeballs in debt.

  8. Things are a bit different depending on where you live, but I don’t think it makes you a whiner to observe that our economy isn’t doing so well right now.

    That doesn’t mean I’m predicting doom and gloom; I think we’ll come out of this next year just like we do every economic down cycle. But I wouldn’t characterize our current situation as “very or somewhat good.”

  9. (weirdly) a newly super-optimistic Russia.

    No, not weird, because, yes, it’s the oil (and nat’l gas)

    The woman who heads CB Ellis’s NYC division said on CNBC this morning that commercial real estate in Moscow is already, or will be soon, more expensive to lease in Moscow than the equivalent property in Manhattan.

  10. Howdy Doody,

    I have seen numbers that say “yes” to your question, but they all require closing one eye and squinting the other. For example, I believe that manufacturing wages have been stagnant for 30 years or so. That would be a sign of decline, except that manufacturing has become a minuscule part of the employment sector and overall employment and average wages are way up from 30 years ago.

    So, if you are one of the few that stuck to punching widgets ignoring the plethora of better jobs out there, things are probably worse.

  11. Brian24,

    In a historical context, our situation is actually very good, certainly much better than any time before 1996. Relative to how things were in 2000, you’re absolutely right, they aren’t very good at all.

  12. Russia I can understand, because of the price of energy.

    China I can understand, because of the continuing manufacturing boom.

    Poland I can only understand as a mini-China. They have the Western European rail gauge (not the Russian rail gauge) and North Sea ports. And they’ve got a lot of room for growth.

  13. People compare their current economic condition to what they’ve experienced in the past. Americans born after the Great Depression are quick to point out parallels between that era and today. Americans who actually remember the Great Depression realize that the current slowdown is still much better than that.

  14. Wow, sometimes I am just stunned that my fellow Americans allow themselves to get led around by the nose by the doomsayers.

    If you don’t think our economy is “good”, you’re on crack (or, more likely, you’re breathtakingly ignorant of history).

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