In the past few months, analysts have found every possible way to say that the U.S. economy just might be possibly heading toward recovery while avoiding any definite verbiage. This, of course, leaves the general populace placated but still befuddled. So is the recession over? Can we start investing again and planning for prosperity? Or are we about to careen out of the proverbial woods and down a ravine?

troubled bank, problem bank, financial meltdownThere is every indication out there that we have not yet seen the worst of this economic downturn. Here are the five of the most sobering:

  1. The amount of problem banks is rising – Check out this graph, courtesy of CNN Money. The amount of troubled banks in the U.S. has skyrocketed from 90 at the start of the meltdown to 775 in 2010. That is a 760 percent jump. Each of those banks represents a body of bad mortgages still fouling up the system, frightening evidence that our economy has not yet shed the toxic loans that kicked off this debacle. As long as these linger in our system, our economy will remain sick.
  2. Unemployment still up – Just today, the Labor department announced that unemployment claims had their biggest jump since February. You can’t have a recovery without jobs. In recent months, positive upticks in employment were mostly government jobs, especially temporary Census jobs. Few of these were in private, profit-generating companies.
  3. Europe has just begun its turmoil – Upheaval in Greece continues today with protests as a follow-up to the riots that burned buildings and killed three. The euro has continued to drop despite action by the European Union. This introduces a new infusion of bad debt into the world financial system, and these woes will make their way to American shores.
  4. state shortfall, bankrupt states, infographicThe economic effects of the Gulf oil spill are yet to be felt – According to the NY Times, 19 percent of the Gulf is now prohibited to fishermen. The Gulf states are waiting to see just how bad the impact is on the pristine beaches and the tourism traditionally drawn there. With estimates of the size of the spill growing sevenfold, there is no telling how large the impact will be on these states’ economies. Inevitably, the loss of revenue and jobs in these states will dramatically affect the nation’s economy at large.
  5. States continue to slide toward bankruptcy – According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 48 states are facing budget shortfalls in 2010. How bad exactly are these shortfalls? Illinois is short $5 billion, approximately 14.3 percent of its 2010 budget. Oklahoma is down $864 million, approximately 15.1 percent of its budget. Topping the list is Arizona, which is down $1.9 billion, about 19.7 percent of its budgets.

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