SPENDING: Buyers Lead, Bosses Lag

EARLY in the economic recovery, consumers and businessmen both displayed a mood of great caution. Consumers saved money at near-record rates, and corporate executives continued or even intensified penny-pinching programs to reduce costs. Today the more important of these groups has come around to all-out optimism; consumers have gone on a spending spree and are plunging into debt at the fastest pace ever to finance it. They have caught up with the bullish projections of economists, while businessmen are still lagging a bit behind.

Consumer spending has been moving up all year. Personal-consumption expenditures rose $15 billion or more in...

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