The measured optimism is reminiscent of the mood a year ago, when the economy seemed to be reviving, only to stall again in the spring amid widespread fears caused by the debt crisis in Greece and other European countries.Even so, economists are increasingly upbeat about the outlook, saying that while the economy in 2011 will not be strong enough to drive unemployment down significantly, it should put the United States on its soundest footing since the financial crisis started an economic tailspin three years ago.

WASHINGTON — Eighteen months after the recession officially ended, the government’s latest measures to bolster the economy have led many forecasters and policy makers to express new optimism that the recovery will gain substantial momentum in 2011.Economists in universities and on Wall Street have raised their growth projections for next year. Retail sales, industrial production and factory orders are on the upswing, and new claims for unemployment benefits are trending downward.Despite persistently high unemployment, consumer confidence is improving. Large corporations are reporting healthy profits, and the Dow Jones industrial average reached a two-year high this week.The Federal Reserve, which has kept short-term interest rates near zero since the end of 2008, has made clear it is sticking by its controversial decision to try to hold down mortgage and other long-term interest rates by buying government securities.
By Sewell Chan, Dec. 23, 10 NYT

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