Missouri Since the 1990s
T he 1990s saw one of the longest stretches of overall prosperity in American and Missouri history. An exuberance, a sense of confidence and optimism, seemed to permeate the society. Technology, primarily the computer and its applications, made young millionaires, and the rise of the stock market promised young and old prosperous retirements. Some even predicted an end to the normal patterns of the economic cycle, declaring that Americans now lived in a world driven by the new economy of lasting growth and prosperity. The federal and state governments even found surpluses in their budgets, and politicians delighted in passing tax cuts, something that most people, of course, applauded. The fall of the Soviet Union added to this sense of euphoria. The United States stood as the lone superpower in the world. With the Japanese economy in recession, it seemed that no other nation could challenge the ongoing strength of the American system. Then, as the twenty-first century dawned, the bubble burst.
The decline of the stock market beginning in the spring of 2000 and layoffs in a variety of industries revealed that the traditional business cycle had not gone away. The steepest declines occurred in technology stocks. Then on September 11, 2001, terrorists commandeered four U.S. commercial passenger jets. Two of the airplanes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and another hit the Pentagon in Washington DC. In the fourth plane, passengers attacked the terrorists, disrupting their plans; the plane crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all aboard. Not since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 had a serious strike been made on U.S. soil. For the first time since the Soviet Union's nuclear threat had disappeared, Americans felt vulnerable. To many