5 Signs the Great Recession Is Really Over

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This weekend will mark the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Once a global juggernaut of the financial services industry, Lehman’s epic failure precipitated the start of the Great Recession, finally pulling the wool off the eyes of countless traders, lenders, securities firms and poor saps who thought simply working hard and establishing a retirement nest egg was a good plan.

After that fateful day, September 15th, 2008, we watched our country, along with the world at large, slide into a protracted period of painful financial constriction: investment portfolios shriveled up, homes fell into foreclosure and once mighty companies either shrunk or shut their doors entirely, driving hordes of people into jobless despair. But half a decade later, we’re coming back, baby. Big time. And here’s your proof.

5 The Stock Market Is Surging

In early 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted all the way down to 6,547 points, a low not seen in more than a decade. Today, the Dow Jones is well over 15,000 points and has recently set all-time record highs. The other major domestic indexes, such as the NASDAQ and S&P 500 are also on the rise, as are global stock indexes.

4 The Housing Market Has Rebounded

It was the housing market (or, more precisely, an epidemic of ridiculously sloppy/predatory loans that led to often adjustable mortgages homeowners could not possibly afford) that led to the whole recession in the first place. The past few years saw millions of homes fall into foreclosure and saw the homebuilding industry—a major driver of employment and economic activity across sectors ranging from heavy manufacturing to timber—crumble. This past summer, however, saw the lowest number of home foreclosures since before the Great Recession even began.

3 The Auto Industry Is Cruising

Remember a few years ago when the federal government had to spend millions of dollars to prop up the ailing giants Chrysler, Ford and Chevrolet? Well, today the Big Three American carmakers are making big bucks again. Customers are buying cars in huge numbers, and large purchases such as these are one of the clearest indications of a healthy economy for myriad reasons. Auto sales indicate that banks are loaning money again, people are confident in their own purchasing power/economic stability and industry has picked up, necessitating cars for commuting and trucks for construction and deliveries.

2 The Unemployment Rate Has Plummeted

Thousands of Americans have gone back to work in recent years, and there’s no better way to kick a recession to the curb than getting people back into offices, factories, retail shops and so on. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national unemployment reached as high as ten percent during the recession, with the peak coming in mid-2009. Today, that number is on a steady decline, falling below 7.3% in August for prospective workers over the age of 16.

1 The Conversation Has Shifted

In the grips of the Great Recession, the recession was all anyone could talk about. Water cooler chatter in offices revolved around fear of losing jobs, homes or both; pundits from both extremes of the political spectrum railed against the ideas and actions of their ideological foils; and every night, the news was on ceaseless cycle of economic doom and gloom. Today there is still plenty of doom and gloom in the media, but it centers around foreign wars, NSA snooping and suggestive celebrity dancing.

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But the end of the Great Recession might be even better news for the 5 Most Indebted Countries.

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