Need a pick-me-up given today's depressing stock news? Then be advised that Nate Silver's column in the New York Times is not for you. The stats guru plots GDP going back to 1877 and sees signs that our recent "economic crash was even worse than economists had previously believed ... and that the recovery has been even more timid." GDP is currently about $13.3 trillion "when it 'should' be $15.7 trillion based on the long-term trend," writes Silver.
"That puts us more than 15% below what we might think of as full output, by far the worst number since the Great Depression." So even if we avoid technically slipping into a double-dip recession and grow by a measly 2% or so, it's not enough. "What we need, instead, is above-average growth—in fact, quite a lot of it. Even if the economy were to begin growing at a 5% annual rate, it would take until 2018 for it to catch up to the long-term trend." Click for the charts and full column. (Read more economic recovery stories.)