Whoever wins the presidential election will have political responsibility for an economy beset by four distinct problems. At the moment neither party has a compelling answer to them.
The first challenge is, of course, the weakness of the recovery. Unemployment remains high. Worse, it has been high for a long time. The longer people are out of a job, the less productive they become — and the less likely to stay in the labor force at all. Long-term unemployment thus has even longer-term consequences.