STATE OF BUSINESS: The Man Who Counts

Much of the current worry over the state of the economy can be crystallized into a single concern: Will the consumer keep on buying, or will he succumb to the notes of pessimism and tighten up his purse strings? By the healthy ring of the nation's cash registers last week, it was clear that the consumer has not suffered any recession jitters. The Federal Reserve Board reported that department-store sales for the previous week jumped 7% above the 1956 level, and that for the month ending in mid-February, sales increased in all but one of the nation's twelve major...