With the U.S. economy humming along better than expected, this may be a good time to consider the long-term prospects, which two sober and respected publications argue ain't too great. In its current issue, the Economist's "Survey of America" features a series of well-turned analyses of social and geographic mobility that suggest the country is increasingly sorting itself into haves and have-nots. Perhaps because it is written largely by Brits, the Economist takes a refreshingly straightforward approach to issues of race and class and comes to the conclusion that our historic dynamism, while still largely intact, is having the effect of tearing us apart politically, economically and socially, rather than pulling us together. Meanwhile, in the July-August issue of the Atlantic, James Fallows imagines the memorandum he might send to a third-party presidential candidate in 2016 after the economy has collapsed into depression and the voters have written off the traditional parties and their special-interest driven ideologies. By pretending to look through the rearview mirror, Fallows is able to reveal the folly of our current budget policies, document the deterioration of the country's physical and human capital, and show how both will lead inevitably to America's decline. And don't skip the footnotes -- that's where Fallows stuffs the most interesting facts and most playful predictions.

-- S.P.