What Reason Is There to Be Pessimistic About the United States?: DeLong FAQ
American Pessimism: Q: What is the single most important thing that makes you pessimistic for the United States?
The chances of some kind of disaster are high.
We gotta pray for lots of luck.
And then there are the unknown unknowns.
No one in 1981 expected the dollar cycle and the hit on manufacturing. No one expected arms-for-hostages. No one in 2001 expected financial deregulation to produce the extraordinary vulnerabilities that led to 2008. No one in 2001 expected that we would react to a horrific terrorist attack by a non-state actor by attacking an uninvolved country and so diving into a quagmire.
Competence is underrated: The watchword of the Obama administration was "don't do stupid stuff". You have to think that a Trump administration will have a very hard time even figuring out what is and what is not potentially stupid. You really cannot be optimistic here. There is always hope at the bottom of Pandora's Box. But the thing to focus on is that we have opened the really big box.