6:23pm

Tue June 21, 2011
Planet Money

The Tuesday Podcast: When Will The Economy Get Better?

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 4:54 pm

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Unemployment is still dangerously high. But things are looking up for both households and companies.

On today's Planet Money, economist Mark Zandi says households have been steadily reducing their debt over the past few years.

The number of credit cards outstanding, bank cards, retail store cards, peaked at almost 600 million back in August of 2008. As of the end of May, we are down to less than 500 million.

As for companies, slashing 8.5 million jobs in this recession has sent their productivity soaring.

Their profit margins are extraordinarily wide, they are record wide and if mix in just a little bit of sales growth, you don't need a whole lot, with those wide margins you generate tremendous corporate profits growth. In fact, corporate profits grew economy wide...25 to 30 percent last year.

One thing that Zandi is still worried about: the federal government's long-term deficit.

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