News Stories

Will the Future Be Brighter?

Will there be an end to the current economic recession soon? Most Americans are pretty gloomy, but?surprisingly?economists have a brighter outlook on the future.

Economic historian Robert Whaples takes the long view: he says that he and the "vast, vast majority" of his peers are more optimistic about the future than a recent poll found average Americans to be. Whaples has come to see the field of economics not as the so-called "dismal science" but rather as the "cheerful science"?which is not how the rest of us see it!

With daily headlines focused on unemployment figures, sluggish consumer spending and deflated stock market averages, on what does he base his optimism? Pull the lens back from the current troubles, he says, and you can expect a future of increasing knowledge, improving productivity and rising standards of living because the underlying drivers of these trends have not disappeared. He says, "The recent financial turmoil has no bearing on this long-term prediction. After all, the Great Depression didn't affect the long-term economic trend of the 20th century."

While he cannot predict when the economy will resume its long march upward, he is confident that the current situation is temporary and considers a historical perspective vital to helping people understand and weather the downturn.

Most non-economists don't see it this way: a Rasmussen Poll released March 10 shows that nearly half of adults (49%) fear today's children will not be better off than their parents, with only 26% holding a more optimistic view. "The view of economists should help cure these anxieties," Whaples says?if only people can hear that view over the current din of doomsayers.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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