Despite recent improvements, the consensus forecast is that the country's economic recovery will take time. Numerous stumbling blocks stand in the way. Small businesses are the biggest creator of new jobs, but they are struggling to get loans from banks that have tightened up credit. Residential real estate might be showing some signs of improvement, but commercial real estate is seen by many as a huge problem in the near future.
Another issue is the soaring federal deficit. In August, the deficit hit a record $1.38 trillion with one month still to go in the fiscal year. Increased government spending to stop the recession and financial crisis combined with lower government tax revenues have taken a toll on federal coffers. The rising debt has drawn the ire of fiscal conservatives, who caution that future generations could be saddled with unmanageable burdens. It has also increased concerns among key foreign holders of U.S. government debt, such as China.
Johnson stated that the country will face another crisis in the next decade or so because the administration has not done enough to institute sweeping financial regulatory reform measures.
"There are no steps being taken to really solve the fundamental problems of the financial system," he said. "Because of that, I think we'll have another big crisis sometime soon. I don't know if soon is three years, five years or eight years, but it's going to be soon."
The administration, noting that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, has unveiled an array of proposals currently making their way through Congress. The proposals include a regulator to oversee systemic risks to the economy, a resolution authority to wind down massive, failing companies and a consumer protection agency. But these measures have taken a back seat to health care reform in recent months, prompting skeptics to voice concerns.
"The proposals that they're considering are very weak," blasted Johnson.
Even while touting the progress made since last year's meltdown, including financial reform measures, administration officials such as Geithner have voiced caution about the country's future prospects.
At a CNBC town hall event last week, Geithner said,"If you look at any measure of basic health of the financial system, things are dramatically better today than they were, but we're not there yet."
Some things will never go back to the way they were before. One year ago this month, General Motors celebrated its 100th birthday. Today, that company has gone bust.
Now, in a sign of the times of the past year, a new government-owned General Motors has taken its place.