The National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the recession ended in June 2009, but the pace of recovery has been anemic, and restrained growth expectations are in order for 2011.

The 3% rebound in real GDP over the four quarters ending in June was less than half of what the post-World War II record suggests should occur after a recession in which GDP fell 4%. Moreover, the U.S. economy evinced lingering fragility this summer with the onset of the euro region's sovereign debt crisis.

No wonder doubts have persisted. Will the United States experience a double-dip recession? Does it face a "lost decade," such as Japan suffered in the 1990s, or the sustained deflation Japan has seen since the late 1990s?

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