When Hurricane Sandy struck, it devastated businesses all over New York City. One area hit particularly hard was Coney Island, an iconic New York beach at the tip of South Brooklyn. At the time, we reported on the damage to a family-owned amusement park, Deno's Wonderwheel Amusement Park, home to the Wonder Wheel, bumper cars, and the Spook-A-Rama.
We're an economics show. We cover the economy. But it's come to our attention that, until now, we've missed one of the biggest stories in our economy: The startling rise in the number of people on federal disability programs.
It's the story of 14 million people who don't show up in most of the numbers we look at to understand the economy. These 14 million Americans don't have jobs, but they don't show up in any of the unemployment measures that we use. They receive federal assistance, but are often overlooked in discussions of the social safety net.
Despite all the celebration, the Dow Jones industrial average has not hit record highs recently. If you adjust for inflation, the highs just aren't as high as they seem.
And even if it does hit a real, inflation-adjusted high in the next few weeks, it won't mean much. The Dow is a seriously flawed stock index, and it's certainly not a good way to measure what's going on in the overall economy.
On today's show, we rain on the Dow's parade and explain why a lot of very smart people say we should ignore the Dow.