I second what l-t c said regarding Yglesias's fairly glib claim that we are richer today than in 1999. As l-t c notes, median income has fallen during that twelve year period, a pretty stunning fact in and of itself.
But I would also guess that median net wealth has probably deteriorated as well. The bursting of the bubble in real estate has left 11 million Americans underwater in their mortgages. So no wealth there to tap into in retirement, something that has been increasingly important in an era in which traditional pensions continue to vanish.
And speaking of pensions, many Americans who are fortunate enough to have pensions coming to them at retirement have seen the level of their retirement benefits get cut or have been required to work later in life to collect the same benefits. This is a direct result of the stock market debacle that went on throughout the aughts.
As for the huge chunk of us who only have 401ks with which to retire, the last twelve years have been no kinder. I know personally that it took me over four years to get back to where my account had been in 2007 -- and being back to even so to speak when you are four years older is not exactly the recipe for successfully saving for retirement. I also know that at its low point in 2011, the S&P 500 stock index was actually lower than it had been on January 1, 1999, a nearly unprecedented stagnation in the markets.
I tend to think that measured in terms of either income or wealth the average American is not better off today than he was in 1999, which is a pretty stunning indictment of the economic policies pursued during the Bush years. (Obama has essentially spent three years trying to dig us out of the hole that Bush & Co. created.)
(Still working on the comment problem -- still deeply frustrated. I will never understand blogs that don't have comments sections. I feel completely cut off by this turn of events. Keep your fingers crossed.)