As events have unfolded during the past year and a half, a growing number of people have asked me what I think of the economy. I've learned two things from these encounters. First, questioners seem to want sound-bite answers. Incisive and extended answers can cause their eyes to quickly glaze over. Second, I've realized that what the questioners often want is not so much analysis as therapy--economic therapy, comforting interpretations of events and data that can help to ease their inner sense of dread.