Nearly 10% of US homes with prime mortgages are in foreclosure/delinquent (distressed loans). Cure rates (percent of distressed loans that are brought back into currency) are now in the single digits for these loans (~6% or so). It's MUCH worse for all other loan types. The collapse of the "middle class consumer" is just starting.
Over the last thirty years, the social compact that divided value produced by productivity improvements between workers and corporate/financial interests broke down. All the value from improvements (they were mighty) in productivity went to corporations/finance. Median incomes stagnated for 30 years and the illusion of growth was produced by the extension of cheap debt. It was also the driver behind the ahistorical rise in the stock market and ultimately the recent financial meltdown.
That would be bad enough, but it's getting worse. Median incomes are now on a downward track to give corporations the ability to return to profitability through increases in productivity (a massive 6.4% rise in the last quarter).
This could be an interesting trend line. Rather than keep median wages at status quo levels (as we have over the last thirty years), this is one where corporate/financial interests claw back on the gains in median wages between the end of WW2 and the mid seventies. In that direction lies complete and utter failure.
Market Ticker: If you are betting on an economic recovery - an actual recovery mind you, which is what the stock market is pricing in - you're betting that the banks can "earn their way out" without any impact on GDP forward, and that without the excess credit creation GDP can advance. Alternatively, you believe that the US Government can add $2 trillion to the Federal Debt this year, $2.5 trillion next year, $3 trillion the year after that and so on, replacing private credit expansion.