2013: Rah-Rah for the Stock Market, So-So for Everyone Else


Happy stock traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, December 18, 2013

While 2013 will go down as a banner year for stocks, soaring stock prices and indexes did not translate into direct economic benefit for many Americans. Though brokers on Wall Street may be wheelin’ and dealin’, many folks on Main Street are still reelin’ from the Great Recession. When it comes to stocks, the top 10 percent of Americans, by income, own about 80 percent of the stocks; thus, the boom in the value of stock portfolios adds little to the prosperity of many people. In fact, some observers view the stock market rally with worry, warning of “a bubble” because economic growth has not kept pace (in economics, bubbles are bad, because they eventually pop!).

Stocks are among the few areas to fully recover from the 2008 economic crisis; corporate profits are another. However, as profits continued to rise much faster than workers’ incomes, wages remained mostly stagnant in 2013,. Income growth continued to lag behind increases in productivity. Unemployment was still high, as the post–Great Recession economic recovery limped on. Even in an era of historically low inflation, the minimum wage fell further behind the cost of living, prompting a “general strike” among low-paid fast-food workers in early December. And the middle class in the United States appears to be shrinking, an evidence of increasing income inequality.

Economics is often called the “dismal science” (for reasons unrelated to why the phrase was coined, but that’s another story)—often the news is bad, and even the good news is hedged with uncertainties. Moreover, as we all know, it can be b-o-r-i-n-g to read about. Economics reporters at the Atlantic have done something about that, though. Their collection of charts and graphs covering almost every conceivable economic topic has created a visually exciting year-in-review (see link below).

Image credit: © John Moore/Getty Images

Related Links

  • Top Business Story in 2013: Booming Stock Markets
    This article takes a look back on the year’s business news; besides stellar stocks, the top stories include government gridlock, tech companies and NSA surveillance, billions of dollars in penalties for financial wrongdoing by America’s largest bank, and chaos in health insurance markets.
    (Source: Dhaka Tribune, December 30, 2013)
  • The Most Important Economic Stories of 2013—in 44 Graphs
    Economics as only charts and graphs can explain it—check out this wealth of data with brief explanations and interpretations. If nothing else, it’s cool to see how many different ways you can graph something.
    (Source: The Atlantic, December 10, 2013)


  1. Rachelle says:

    I love ECON

  2. Rachelle says:

    God Bless