The economy abounds with hopeful signs as the New Year arrives, enough that the Federal Reserve will begin to put its easy-money punch bowl on a higher shelf by trimming its bond purchases this month. But after five years of crisis, recession and an aren't-we-there-yet recovery, we don't fully trust the signs.
And that's why Mesirow Financial economist Diane Swonk sums up the outlook in a nutshell:
"2014 could be the breakout year,'' she says. "This is the year when we're going to find out.''