You're spot on. "The Economy" is something that has been shoved down our throat for so long, we actually believe 'it' is real(in the sense of a singular, animate entity.) We take 'it' as a given, absolute fact of reality...as an 'it.'
Of course in some sense there are economies; all kinds of economies, at all kinds of overlapping scales. Where the voodoo jump is made(easily forgiven, because the concept of multiple overlapping economies is so confusing)is when we let economists wave their hands and aggregate them all on a macro sense to an actual entity, an 'it', something called 'The Economy.' The implication is that they understand 'it' as an 'it' and can control 'it.'
The Gods of Macro clearly have clay feet; there is no evidence that they understand 'it', can control 'it', or even, have the first f'n clue. And yet, controlling 'it' is front and center in our politics.
They can barely agree on what long ago already happened to 'it.' They can't agree at all at what is happening to 'it,' and they for sure have no prayer at all of predicting what will happen to 'it.'
Macro economics is politics dressed up as Feynman's Cargo Cult Science. It is begging with charts, by voodoo priests seeking political power over The Tribe.
And, that view I've just expressed is so fringe in this nation as to be non-existent, among people paying attention as well as among people barely paying attention; as a Tribe, we've caught 'The Economy' fever, big time.
Harumph, Harumph, Harumph...here is this complicated thing called 'The Economy.' Lots of charts, and percentages, and initials like 'GDP' and terms like 'fraction of GDP' and God Help us, 'Quantitative Easing.' (If more than 1% of the population actually understands what the term 'Quantitative Easing' means and can explain it in understandable terms, I'll spend the next year buck naked on my front porch singing the International.) Who gets the funny money? Who takes on the debt? Private debt is primarily taken, not given. The government can't 'give' debt to private entities who are not taking debt. So the trillion dollar question is, what types of actors are taking debt in this environment, for what purposes, and what actors are refusing debt in this environment, for what reasons? Because that matters more than anything else; those reasons are exactly the engines, plural, that drive economies, plural.
But trust our politicos and their hired gun economists, they actually understand how to pull the levers and push the buttons and control 'it'...except when they don't. And a fatigued nation shrugs and throws a dart and hopes for relief from an out of all control tribal leadership machine that is taking on too much and attempting too much control and bleeding the nation dry while struggling to do what it can't do, what has never been done, what drove the Soviet Union into the ground, what is driving Greece and much of Europe into the ground, and what will, guaranteed if we don't about face and sprint from the abyss, drive America to the ground....
I took my family out to dinner the other night, met my oldest son in Brooklyn at Destafanoes ('steaks and chops') and had a fantastic birthday celebration meal for my wife. Great little restaurant, great meal. On the way, my wife tells me that one of my favorite restaurants in NYC, Gallaghers, is closing ... after decades.
Here is the plain truth about "The Economy" and those who would attempt to run 'it' from afar; Gallagher's survived The Great Depression, but could not survive the Obama Recovery.