I have both serious responses (tm) and PM's to answer, but both of those can wait. The American (and Western more generally) experience, over the past 140-odd years, has been temporary recessions that are followed by recoveries that restore income levels to their long-run trend values. As evidence I provide the following graph of income per capita for several Western countries: For all of these countries, not even the Great Depression and WWII could budge them from trend. To the contrary: there has been convergence, so that those who were hit hardest by the Depression have bounced back to a greater, not lesser, extent. Now zoom in on the latter bit of the period, and focus on the US from 1984 to 2011 (I don't have the international data right now): Apparently, the recent recession could do what even the Great Depression could not: knock the US off of its long-term growth path. My questions is: why? And perhaps as importantly, is there anything policymakers can do to get income levels back on track? I'm not asking for a long-term increase in growth rates. I'm just asking for a year of strong growth to bring income/output back to trend.