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Does Today's Long Boom Mean We’ve Forgotten the Lessons of the Great Recession?

By Motley Fool Staff - Oct 30, 2017 at 6:18PM

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A lot depends on who and where you are, because for tens of millions of Americans, the answer is, “What boom?"

Wall Street has infamously had its share of ugly Octobers, so Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp chose this month to offer their listeners a special treat: a four-part series on the history of market crashes in the United States.

In this segment of the Motley Fool Answers podcast, guest and former Fool Morgan Housel helps them wrap things up with a post-mortem on the downturn we all think we know best, because it's so recently behind us: the Great Recession. And speaking of "behind us," it's necessary to mention that for large swathes of America, it really isn't. Despite low core unemployment, a bull market in stocks that has shown amazing stamina, and potent housing rebounds in many markets, the country's economic reality today is very much two realities.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Oct. 24, 2017.

Alison Southwick: So we are in the second-longest bull market in history. How are we doing? I feel like we're good. We're fine, right? Have we forgotten the lessons of the Great Recession or no?

Morgan Housel: No, I think an important point, here, is that explains a lot of what's going on in America is that the last eight or nine years of recovery have been phenomenal for some people and nonexistent for others. And that, I think, explains a lot of the political dynamic in the United States over the last couple of years. With the exception of maybe the 1920s, it's hard to find another period in American history where things have been so bifurcated and one group [a pretty big group] doing great.

If you are college-educated, living in a city, and below, let's say, age 50, the last nine years have probably been pretty good for you. If you are living in a rural area without a college diploma and you're over the age of 50, the last nine years have probably been pretty tough. And it's usually not like that in the economy. It's usually been on broad terms [of course, it's never true for everyone] that most people move in the same direction at the same time. In the last couple of years it just hasn't been.

One statistic I remember is 2011, which is kind of the peak skew between groups. If you were a Caucasian female with a college education, the unemployment rate was 2%. If you were an African-American without a high school diploma, the unemployment rate was 48%. So when people ask how the economy is doing, well, who are you? It was completely different based on people's circumstances and that's held through today.

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