What the ‘Bad Vibes’ Story About the Economy Misses

By Tressie McMillan Cottom

Produced by Kristina Samulewski

Even though traditional indicators show substantial growth, American voters don’t feel good about the economy. The mismatch has spurred a “vibes-cession” debate in the media: Is the bad economy just in our heads? The Opinion columnist Tressie McMillan Cottom doesn’t think so. In this audio essay, she explains what’s missing from the “vibes-cession” story and how a better narrative could both reckon with Americans’ economic anxieties and offer a path forward.

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

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This episode of “The Opinions” was produced by Kristina Samulewski. It was edited by Alison Bruzek with help from Kaari Pitkin. Mixing by Sonia Herrero. Original music by Isaac Jones and Efim Shapiro. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Special thanks to Isaac Jones and Derek Arthur.

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