Who ruined our economy, Bush or Obama? Trick question! The economy’s never been better, for investors and rentiers. And it’s never getting better for everybody else, including the half of Americans who just told the U.S. government they’d be fucked if they needed to come up with $400, like, now.

That’s one data point from the Federal Reserve’s newly released report on the economic well-being of U.S. households. As AllGov explains:

[T]he agency asked 50,000 people if they could handle an unexpected “financial disruption” costing them $400. Just over half (53%) said they could “fairly easily handle such an expense” by using money in their bank accounts (checking or savings) or by leaning on a credit card.

But for 47% of respondents, $400 was a tougher problem to handle. Within this group, 14% said they simply couldn’t cover it. Another 10% would have to sell something, 13% would have to borrow money from a friend or relative and 2% would have to resort to a high-interest payday loan.

It gets grimmer: Among households with income under $40,000—about two-thirds of members say “that they would sell something or borrow money to cover a $400 emergency expense or could not cover the expense at all.”

Some other highlights of our economic recovery:

  • “Thirty-one percent of respondents report going without some form of medical care in the 12 months before the survey because they could not afford it.”
  • “Just under one-quarter of respondents indicate that they or a family member living with them experienced some form of financial hardship in the year prior to the survey.”
  • “Twenty percent of respondents report that their spending exceeded their income in the 12 months prior to the survey.”
  • “Thirty-nine percent of non-retirees have given little or no thought to financial planning for retirement and 31 percent have no retirement savings or pension.”
  • “Over one-half of non-retirees with self-directed retirement accounts are either ‘not confident’ or only ‘slightly confident’ in their ability to make the right investment decisions when investing the money in these accounts.”

Then there are the statistics on homebuying, which isn’t merely an American Dream: It’s also the cornerstone of long-term economic security, seeing as how owning can save you nearly a quarter of a million dollars over renting in a few decades. But the Fed’s survey finds that half of Americans who’d like to buy are still unable to afford a down payment or qualify for a mortgage.

It’s true, mortgage companies are really concerned about your ability to make a monthly payment with your debt load! So you’ll just have to continue paying monthly rent, the cost of which is quickly rising, outpacing mortgage payments in much of the country. That won’t be a problem for you, will it?

America: The economy’s great! Just not ever for you, you entitled lazies.

Contact the author at adam@gawker.com.
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