NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The U.S. economy is teetering on the brink of another recession. The bad news is that if it goes down again, there won't be much we can do to save ourselves. Like a weary heavyweight, if the economy hits the mat again, it's down for good.
The expansion has been terribly disappointing -- growth is hardly 2% and jobs creation barely keeps unemployment steady at 8.2%.
Manufacturing and exports powered the recovery but are now weakening. Consumer spending and existing home sales are flagging because policymakers failed to aid underwater homeowners as generously as the banks.
President Obama is doubling down on slow-growth policies -- new restrictions on offshore oil and CO2 emissions, and pushing forward with financial regulations that haven't stopped Wall Street banks from trading recklessly and rigging markets, as indicated by the Libor scandal.Governor Mitt Romney has reverted to shop-worn Republican prescriptions -- tax cuts, free trade and deregulation. With the federal government spending 50% more than it takes in, no sane economist could endorse big rate cuts, beyond renewing the Bush tax cuts. China, by manipulating its currency and shutting out western products, helped cause the Great Recession and is now constraining recovery in the United States and Europe. More free trade agreements won't fix that. Dodd-Frank may be bureaucratic and ineffective but no sane person could claim banks can regulate themselves. Smarter solutions, like breaking up unmanageable and unsupervisable institutions, is needed. Many analysts ask if another big innovation like the automobile or computer is coming and could save the economy. The problems are many new products are creating more jobs in Asia than in the West, and many technology companies are consolidating or facing extinction. Consider the smartphone, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Yahoo (YHOO). A lot of U.S. innovation is starting to look more like French art than American commerce. Icons like Yahoo, Facebook (FB) and Twitter have made great contributions to the economy and culture but simply don't have business models that generate enough revenue and sustainable jobs growth. Google (GOOG) has succeeded by cannibalizing newspapers -- the net effect has been to destroy more -- and branching into software and media, which merely displaces workers elsewhere.