Retirement investors have struggled with a Jekyll and Hyde economy these past two years, where Dr. Jekyll lives very well on Wall Street while Mr. Hyde runs roughshod over a terrified Main Street.
On Main Street, the jobless rate tops 9 percent and 14 million residential mortgages are underwater – a figure Deutsche Bank thinks will hit 25 million, or 48 percent of all home loans, before the housing bust ends.
On Main Street, the economy hasn't respond to ultra-accommodative monetary policy. Near-zero interest rates don't matter because because there's so little demand for credit to hire people or to buy post-bubble real estate.
Meanwhile, free money has been great for Wall Street. The companies that created Main Street's problems through the reckless behavior that led to the financial crisis barely missed a beat, and they went right back onto the gravy train.
Now, the Jekyll and Hyde economies demand to be reconciled. The markets finally realize what Main Street has known all along: we're stuck in a grinding, recessionary economy with no end in sight. You can't even call what's coming now a double-dip, because the first downturn never ended.