The Plank

A Little Perspective

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There's not a whole lot of good to say about the news, coming out of the Fed today, that Americans lost 18 percent of its net worth last year, or $11 billion the worst one-year decline since the Federal Reserve started keeping track after World War II.

But as the Wall Street Journal notes today, that amount is equal to the combined net worth of Britain, Germany, and Japan. In other words, it's as if three of the world's five largest economies had simply disappeared. And while the current crisis is going to affect us for a long time, Americans are still largely going about their daily business, taking things in stride. True, we may yet see caravans of unemployed Okies heading west. But numbers like these should give pause to the trendy declinists out there who--until recently, at least--believed American economic dominance was about to implode. The simple fact that our economy can absorb what, by any other measure, are nation-crushing losses and keep rolling should be a reminder of just how one-sided the global economic picture still is.

--Clay Risen

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