Is economic optimism returning?

After years of economic misery, things are starting to turn a little. While the news from Europe keeps throwing cold water on the situation, economic conditions in the United States seem to be improving, and that is fueling economic optimism.

Four years after the recession officially began in December 2007, economists, businesses and consumers alike have expressed a growing optimism about the recovery in recent weeks. The more confident, if still tempered, outlook is taking shape as the nation seems to be navigating past some big stumbling blocks — such as high gasoline prices — that have impeded growth most of this year. Some recent encouraging signs:

Vehicle sales in November rose 14% from a year ago to an annual rate of 13.6 million — their best showing since cash-for-clunker incentives drove purchases in August 2009. Economists cite, in part, the recent easing of auto shipment disruptions that followed the Japanese earthquake early this year, as well as a less diffident consumer.

“We’re getting some pent-up demand kicking in where people who have not replaced for a long, long time, particularly if they’re still working … are deciding it’s time,” says Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.

Read the entire article and see the various ways things are getting better.


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