"Nostalgia is just about the only thing the middle class can still afford," writes Matt O'Brien. "That's because median wealth is about 20 percent lower today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was in 1984."
"It's all about stocks and houses. The middle class doesn't have much of the former, but it does have a lot of the latter. And that's bad news, because, even though the crash decimated both, real estate hasn't come back nearly as much as equities have." Moreover, "the housing bust was big enough to erase all the gains the middle class had made the past 30 years—and then some."
The problem is further exacerbated by stagnant real wages and increasing costs for things like healthcare, education, and housing.