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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 07-19-2013 09:00 AM

Friday Five: The 200th Episode

Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser's five biggest takeaways since The Friday Five's first episode almost four years ago.

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Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar and welcome to the 200th episode of The Friday Five: five big takeaways from the last four years. Joining me as always with The Friday Five is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome, Jason.

Stipp: So it's been almost four years since we started The Friday Five. We've seen a lot of big changes. You have five of the biggest here today.

Glaser: The things we're going to talk about today are: the recovery, Washington, Europe, corporate America, and finally, the pace of change.

Stipp: Sitting here four years ago, there were a lot of questions about the recovery, the double-dip, all the issues that were still out there. But now we can say with certainty that this recovery is real.

Glaser: There were quite a few worries. If you remember, in 2009 we were talking a lot about "green shoots." Any little positive piece of economic data was scrutinized as maybe a sign that the economy was finally pulling out of the tailspin that it had been in since the onset of the financial crisis.

I think over the last four years that's been one of the big recurring themes, that the recovery is in fact real--that it has legs, that it wasn't a house of cards that was just ready to collapse--even if the pace was excruciatingly slow at times. We've seen that across a bunch of different sectors and a bunch of different metrics. Look at things like consumer spending, you look at manufacturing and autos and how that's really come back, how housing is starting to come back in a big way in many parts of the country.

But that being said, [the recovery] is at a very slow level, and you see that in employment most clearly. … In 2009 we were still losing potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs every month, and that's obviously turned around. But we are not adding jobs at a very robust pace. Things are getting better, but we're still far from pre-recession employment levels. We were having a lot of people drop out of the workforce, some of that because of demographics, but some of that just because it's difficult to find work. [There are] lots of long-term unemployed, which is something that we haven't seen in quite some time.

So even though the recovery is real, and we've seen it and it's been manifested through a bunch of different avenues, it's still not really a robust recovery that people can get incredibly excited about. I think that it's still going to be a story for a while, waiting to get back to true normalization.

Stipp: Over the last four years, Washington, D.C., the government, has had a big hand in both the markets and the recovery, both through monetary and fiscal policy, regulations and reforms. You say, on balance, that's been a mixed bag.

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