The economy continues to pick up speed with surprising swiftness. The Federal Reserve Board reported last week that U.S. industrial production, led by sharp increases in the output of steel and autos, surged 1.8% in July, the eighth monthly increase in a row. Convinced that consumers will continue spending freely, companies are rushing to rebuild their inventories. And with good reason: retail sales in July increased 10.3% from the same month a year ago. Sales of domestically produced autos jumped 38.5%, while home furnishings, including furniture and appliances, were up 8.5%.

Many economists...

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