Pointing Toward Prosperity

An exuberant stock market has all but declared America's recession over. The public isn't persuaded.

If the economic news is really so bad, why is Wall Street so giddy? The grim tidings of late January and early February were enough to depress anyone: 232,000 more Americans lost jobs, housing starts sank to their lowest level since 1982, consumer confidence plunged to a 10-year low, the bank-insurance fund was proclaimed nearly broke and a costly war threatened to deepen a record federal deficit. Yet through it all, U.S. share prices marched merrily upward, rising 6% so far this year.

The explanation is that investors aren't looking at the present. They're focused on the future -- and they...

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