I have never been confused with an economist, but one of my jobs here at NEMA is to assist companies who are interested in selling their equipment abroad. So something I read yesterday struck me. In an AP story about U.S. consumer confidence hitting new lows, an economist for one of the major banks (I am not a customer but there is a branch just around the corner from NEMA HQ) was quoted as saying, "[T]here's a real gulf between an economy being held up by exports and what's happening in people's everyday lives."
Now, I am not going to argue that people are not taking a hit financially in this country due to rising prices. I buy groceries and gasoline just like you. But the point that often gets missed is that jobs at companies that export are often higher-paid than comparable jobs at companies that do not compete internationally. Without pulling out the exact stats, you may have seen that the weak dollar is helping drive the value of U.S. manufacturing exports to new highs each month. Companies that are competing tooth-and-nail and making sales in international markets, like many NEMA member companies are, are the ones that can bridge that perceived "gulf" and make an "everyday life" a bit more financially secure.