For a lot of Americans asking whether they're better off than when President Barack Obama took office in 2009, it's a tossup. Some things are better, such as job security, lending conditions and the stability of the overall economy. But there are fewer jobs, incomes have fallen and average net worth has plummeted. If things are better for the majority of Americans, it's only at the margins.
There are also some indications in Romney's tax documents that he suffered major capital losses in 2008, a year in which the stock market plunged by 37 percent. The clue comes in Schedule D of his 2010 return, in which he claimed a $4.8 million loss carried over from prior years. "The carryover tells you that in prior years he had more losses than he could use on his tax return," says Brad Badertscher, an accounting professor at the University of Notre Dame. "The reason was probably the financial crisis."