Economists over the past year have talked in the visual language of the alphabet -- is the current recession a "V" (fast decline, fast resurgence) or a "U" (fast decline, flat creep, quick rebound) or a "W" (down, then up, then down, then up)? More pessimistic observers talk Canadian -- the recession as a hockey stick, which is to say an extended flat market with a moderate bump at the end.
My prediction, then? Not a V, not a U. But an X. This economy can't get back on track because the track we were on for years -- featuring flat or declining median wages, mounting consumer debt, and widening insecurity, not to mention increasing carbon in the atmosphere -- simply cannot be sustained.
The X marks a brand new track -- a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows. All we know is the current economy can't "recover" because it can't go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin.
If Reich is right, we're in for a few long years of uncertainty, fits and starts, and questionable reinvention as government and corporations continue to try to apply various adaptations of old solutions to what increasingly is becoming a different model.