A week and a half ago, the Chicago Cubs trailed by three games to one in the best-of-seven World Series. Even those who don’t follow baseball were aware that the Cubs had not won a championship in more than 100 years. That streak of futility seemed likely to continue.

At that point, Nate Silver’s statistical website (fivethirtyeight.com)

posted the observation that the Cubs’ odds of winning were comparable to those faced by Donald Trump. When the Cubs recovered to take the crown, I began to wonder if Mr. Trump would also defy expectations and win the U.S. election. With that outcome now in hand, our attention turns to lessons learned and what might lie ahead.

A mistake many in my profession have made in the past year has been underestimating the difference between overall economic performance and its translation to the fortunes of constituents. This was at the heart of the Brexit vote last June and was the driving force behind yesterday’s U.S. outcome.

We’ve had a seven-year economic expansion, the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index is 200% higher than it was in the spring of 2009 and unemployment is around 5%. In light of the headwinds posed by the post-crisis era (deleveraging, advancing regulation, financial stability), this seems like an excellent performance, at least to me.

But looking beneath the surface, there are many who do not share this opinion. As we wrote last week, the labor force has two faces.



Many have endured both secular and cyclical challenges in finding and keeping work. Those with more modest levels of education are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed and less likely to be participating in the labor force. This group is less likely to have a stock portfolio, so its members have not shared in the market’s gains. And they are more likely to have a home worth less than the outstanding mortgage.

Many of us here, and many of our readers, are college-educated. We spend the lion’s share of our time in the company of others like ourselves. We indulge in research, theory and policy discussions that often review issues at a high level.