The economy is stuck and the federal government appears powerless to unstick it.
For anyone who believes there's a solution somewhere in Washington, D.C. that would turn around the economy in a matter of months, Associated Press economics writer Jeannine Aversa has a message: Stop dreaming.
The Federal Reserve has little power left to lift the economy out of its rut. Congress, with an election looming, has no appetite for more stimulus. Shoppers are reluctant to spend, and businesses are slow to hire.
Let's face it: There is no easy or imminent fix for the flagging recovery.
That's about right. We're lost in the economic woods with no bread crumbs to lead us out.
Which makes Friday's news that consumer confidence was up slightly in early August somewhat intriguing.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers showed a slight uptick, with consumer sentiment rising to 69.6 in August from 67.8 in July.
What are these consumers seeing? Is it just that vaunted American optimism that's coming through?
Actually, not really. A snippet from Reuters:
"The gain was too small to represent a meaningful improvement," Richard Curtin, director of the surveys, said in a statement. "Consumers have increasingly come to expect lackluster income and job growth for an extended period of time."
Most consumers, it appears, understand there's no easy way out of the nation's current economic predicament.