A general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify
Check out some of the headlines from yesterday...
"The American Homeownership Dream is officially dead. Long live the New Normal American Dream: Renting"
"Consumer Confidence unchanged at 82.3 the highest since January 2009 but still 26% below pre-recession peak"
"President Obama's approval ratings tumble five points to 41% the lowest of his time in office"
I could also add that real incomes adjusted for inflation are below 1973 levels ($51,670 vs $49,398), and there are 20% of households where not a single person has a job. In fact, there are so many variables to make the point the nation is in the blahs, and struggling for emotional footing. On that note, consumer confidence is gaining some ground, but ultimately its jobs and income that will drive market health going forward.
Make no mistake, we are at a malaise crossroad with incremental signs that things are getting better, but how long before people feel better is the real question. At the end of the day, it will always revolve around jobs (first), and then "good-paying" jobs.
The Federal Reserve is going to be watching jobs, wages, and the participation rate, but the most important thing I believe for Janet Yellen is to see when, and if, people feel confident again, and if people are beginning to feel like there are better-paying jobs available.
It all points back to the virtuous cycle which never truly materialized under Ben Bernanke, and more likely than not will never materialize under the new Fed chairman because all the money printing in the world cannot counter a regime designed to loot corporate America and punish an individual's success.
Still businesses are aiming to grow, and we are seeing lots of signs that the anticipated growth won't be the growth that we're accustomed to, but it might be the kind of growth that gets people feeling a little better, and at the same time keeps the Fed on pins and needles.
This is an economic and spiritual malaise. It's a crossroad for a nation that hasn't found its footing. It is not the ideal backdrop, but we've been here before.