"We need to retrain our labor force," he said. "But that takes time."
WINNER: The super-rich. It takes money to make money. And many of the extraordinarily well-off who managed to keep their wealth after the 2008 crash have seen their fortunes balloon once again.
The Fed's low interest rates have driven up two favorite assets of the super-rich: real estate and stocks.
A new report by research firm Wealth-X pegs the number of "ultra-high net worth" individuals — those with at least $30 million in net worth — at a record high of nearly 200,000 worldwide this year, up from 186,000 in 2011.
Their total wealth has surged to $27.8 trillion from $25 trillion two years ago, Wealth-X estimated.
To put the numbers in perspective, those 200,000 people control wealth equivalent to the combined gross domestic products of the U.S., Japan, Brazil and India.
The riches at the very top have helped widen the income-inequality gap here and abroad.
A new study by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at UC Berkeley, found that the top 10% of U.S. earners captured 50.4% of total income in 2012, a level higher than any other year since 1917.
"We need to decide as a society whether this increase in income inequality is efficient and acceptable and, if not, what mix of institutional and tax reforms should be developed to counter it," Saez said.
But with Washington deadlocked on nearly everything, that debate still seems DOA.
LOSER: Foreclosed and underwater homeowners. The foreclosed homeowner will always be the face of the 2008 crisis.
The bursting of the housing bubble has cost 4.5 million families their homes via foreclosure over the last five years, according to data firm CoreLogic Inc. In many hard-hit communities the total cost has been incalculable: lives disrupted, neighborhoods degraded, tax revenue slashed, credit ruined.
What's more, millions of Americans remain trapped in homes whose value is below the mortgage balance. The number of homes with negative equity totaled 7.1 million at the end of June, or 14.5% of all homes with mortgages, CoreLogic estimates.
Yet the losers' ranks here are thinning as home prices rebound. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major cities has risen 19% since March 2012 after diving 35% from its 2006 peak.
The number of homes in some stage of foreclosure plunged to 949,000 in July, down one-third from a year earlier, CoreLogic said. And the negative-equity mortgage share has shrunk by about half since the end of 2009, when it hit 26%.
With mortgage rates rising, however, the fear is that home prices could resume their slide and reignite the crisis. But Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, said the housing market is more likely to just lose momentum.
"We see a slowdown in the rate of price appreciation, but not a decline," Khater said. With new construction depressed, foreclosures falling and the number of homes for sale relatively limited, supply won't soon overwhelm demand even if buying interest weakens, he said.
Still, TARP watchdog Barofsky said his biggest regret was that he couldn't divert more money away from aiding the banks and toward stemming the wave of foreclosures. The political will wasn't there, he said.
"We had our foot on the throat of these institutions, but we just weren't able to get the necessary traction to get help for homeowners," Barofsky said. "It slipped away."
WINNER: The index-investing concept. For decades, many experts have preached the wisdom of investing in low-cost "index" funds that simply replicate average market performance, rather than trying to beat the market via high-fee "active" management.