State of Business: The Well-Heeled No-Show

Of all the broad economic indicators in which businessmen put store, few can jiggle their pulses more than the state of consumer spending. Because what the U.S. public buys accounts for two-thirds of all spending, the consumer has only to shell out an extra 3½% to give the same boost to the economy as a 15% rise in business spending or a 21% increase in federal outlays. Last week it was disappointingly apparent that, in the general pageant of recovery, the consumer is still waiting in the wings, refusing to come onstage to make the show an unqualified hit....

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