INVESTMENT: No Animal Spirit'

When spending by consumers and businesses marches along in quickstep, an economic recovery steadily gains speed. When one of the marchers lags behind, there are nagging doubts about the recovery's strength. That has been the case since March 1975; the U.S. then began pulling out of its worst recession since the Depression of the 1930s. Consumer spending has moved up, boosting demand for everything from automobiles to pantyhose. But spending by business for such items as machine tools, plants, office buildings and stores has been persistently sluggish. During the first 21 months of recovery, until last December, business investment...

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