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The economic outlook for 2015 and what it means to the political landscape

Dec 29, 2014

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St. Jude patient, Mary Browder, age 11 and St. Jude National Outreach Director, Marlo Thomas check out shopping carts full of Kmart Fab 15 toys while on a shopping spree to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patients as part of Kmart’s 11th annual St. Jude Thanks and Giving fundraising campaign on December 15, 2014 in New York City. ; Credit: Astrid Stawiarz

Heading into 2015, it seems economists are generally optimistic about the U.S.’s economic outlook. After suffering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. economy rebounded in 2014. While the housing market is still slow, energy and oil prices are plummeting, stocks are on the rise with the Dow Jones Industrial average having just climbed above 18,000 for the first time ever, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in November (compared to an average of 7.4 percent in 2013), GDP climbed five percent just in the third quarter of this year, and consumer confidence rising. All of this growth is said to be a good sign that the economy is gaining momentum heading into the new year. However, there are still plenty of risks, including slowdowns in Europe and Asia as well as a possible collapse in the Russian economy. A recent L.A. Times article also argues that wage stagnation is hurting ordinary workers as the median net worth of upper-income families rose to nearly seven times what middle-income families are making and nearly 70 times what low-income families are making.

A growing economy in 2015 and 2016, if the economy does indeed grow, could change political strategy down the road in 2016. It will be very hard to criticize Democrats for the “Obama economy” if that economy is growing at anywhere near five percent. While economists don’t expect that five percent rate to continue in 2015, they say a slower pace would be welcome. The improved economic outlook is also helping to quell some of the frequent bickering over spending and the debt limit.

Are you optimistic about your own economic outlook in 2015? How do you think a better economy will affect the 2016 election? How does the political landscape change if the economy doesn’t grow as well as forecasters are suggesting?

Guests:

Craig Gordon, Managing Editor, Bloomberg News in DC

David Lazarus, consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times

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