It’s been about 5 years since the onset of America’s nervous breakdown, starting with the Great Recession. But think about some of the nerve-wracking headlines that followed that we all somehow managed to suffer through:
• The market collapse of 2008 (and with it, millions of 401k retirement accounts).
• The housing crisis, where underwater mortgages were as common as a 3-bedroom colonial.
• Too big to fail banks, followed by TARP, the auto bailout.
• High sustained unemployment.
• Bankrupt cities like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Stockton, California. The student debt crisis.
• Congressional fights over Obamacare.
• A near government shutdown.
• The debt ceiling crisis.
• The Fiscal Cliff.
• The Sequester.
Well, today, a few optimists are beginning to see that glass almost half full again—at least for one day. Here are 7 reasons to smile today and sleep a little better tonight:
1. U.S. families’ net worth rose by $1.17 trillion at the end of 2012—the highest level since 2007—according to the Federal Reserve.
2. Deleveraging is down as consumer confidence rises. It figures—the wealthier you feel, the less you hoard and hunker down. Viva the consumer spending engine!
3. Obama invites Republicans to the table – the dinner table. After months of snarling at one another, Senate Republicans and the president broke more than bread at their dinner last night; they broke the ice. With luck, they'll find a way to cut a budget deal.
4. We caught another bad guy. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, a known Al Qaeda operative, was captured and will be brought to New York. Whether he stays here or is shipped off to Guantanamo is an issue with some members of Congress.
5. Unemployment isn’t getting worse. Ok, that’s a hedge. But considering the report this week in the Fed’s beige book that Obamacare is causing layoffs and forcing companies to delay hiring, a slow but steady climb out of the depths ain’t bad.
6. Music sales are up; piracy is down because of two new digital “radio” platforms. It’s the first year revenues increased since 1999.
7. Finally, when you lay your head on your pillow tonight, thank your lucky stars that the asteroid didn’t get us. (And NASA isn’t tracking any other big ones likely to hit earth before your alarm goes off.) Pleasant dreams.