Economy Now

Instant reaction and smart charts on economic trends.

Welcome to the new economy

February 27, 2012: 10:49 AM ET

As 2012 began, the United States was at a major crossroads. The economy was growing and the job market was improving. By more than a few measures, it appeared the recovery was finally gaining momentum.

Meanwhile, numerous threats still loom. Battered home values, global tensions and rising oil prices have kept  consumers and businesses on the sidelines.

We've seen this all before. In the two-and-a-half years since the official end of the most devastating economic crisis since the Great Depression, there were plenty of ups and downs. And with every economic report came a wave of optimism -- or pessimism -- about the ever-elusive recovery.

But the story of the economy goes far beyond the numbers.

Last year as Washington argued over the tax code, income inequality took center stage in the national conversation. The European debt crisis escalated and became fodder for water-cooler chatter. And China's growing influence on the world economy seeped into cocktail party conversations.

Those issues will continue to hang over the economy.

This year the election will dominate the headlines. Squabbling between the two parties will make for a contentious battle. The Federal Reserve's actions will be scrutinized more than ever. And we will continue to search for a bottom in the housing market.

In this space we plan to touch on some of those issues, both in the mainstream and on the margins. We want to look at how the economy intersects with our everyday lives. But we also want to hit on the lighter side of economics. How economists view things like fashion, rock music and social networking trends. We think we can make sense of a complicated economy. We hope you do too.

Welcome to the new economy.

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