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Amid the country’s diverse economic problems, it is easy—too easy—to focus on the dark side of everything. However much material there is on that unattractive side of the ledger, people should not lose sight of positive developments. Especially where the American consumer is concerned, matters have improved markedly over the last four years, although they’re still far from universally robust. With consumption making up some 70% of the economy, the improvement raises serious doubts about today’s popular and sometimes extreme pessimism, especially the frequent forecasts of another recessionary dip.

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