Times can always be classified as bad: There will always be war, geopolitical tensions, famine. BUT, as bad as things are perceived to be worldwide, for the first time in history more than half the world is middle class - thanks to rapid growth in emerging countries. Obviously "middle class" is a matter of definition.
The middle class's share of the whole world's population rose from 1/3 to over 1/2 (57%) between 1990 and 2006, according to The Economist, hardly a publication that lavishes undue praise.
Over the next 2 or 3 decades, an expanding global middle class could/should boost economic growth and encourage something that at least looks like western-style democracy. It could also press for global public goods, such as tighter controls on pollution, etc.
The global recession WILL end. It seems entirely reasonable to expect the engine of middle-class formation to start humming again when growth picks up.
A major leap forward in continuing this trend would be the further empowerment of women worldwide, which of course is the absolute key to diminishing the forces of poverty. It can be done; it IS being done; let's hope it continues.