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What's Ailing The Economy? What Isn't?

For all of us who want to know when the economy's going to get moving again and when we'll start to see some consistently healthy job growth, the conversation that opened Morning Edition today was enlightening — though not particularly encouraging.

In about 9 minutes, host Steve Inskeep, David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal and Zanny Minton Beddoes of The Economistran through a lot of challenges — wary consumers, a depressed construction sector, governments cutting back on spending and a European financial crisis that threatens U.S. exports.

But about the only positive part of the conversation was Minton Beddoes' guess that maybe, at some point, the construction sector will turn around. Her reasoning: There must be a fair amount of pent-up demand since many potential home buyers have been holding on to their money and "a lot of young people are [still] living with their parents" and will eventually want to move out.

As she warned, though, "a real catastrophe" in Europe could deal the already ailing U.S. economy a very hard blow as U.S. exports decline. And exports, Wessel added, have been a key to the Obama administration's game plan for boosting the economy — "a reasonable strategy until Europe fell apart."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.