These days, as in the aftermath of every recession, you are again hearing a version of those early 1980s worries: this time, things are different. Consumers are tapped out. Business executives are skittish. Banks remain reluctant to lend.

And maybe things really are different this time. Given the many problems weighing on the economy, a mediocre recovery does indeed seem more likely than a strong one, as I’ve written before. But history certainly offers pessimists and semi-pessimists some cause for humility.

David Leonhardt, noting one of the many phrases that has come to characterize our present circumstances: this time, things are different.

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