The recent gyrations in the stock market reflect a pervasive uncertainty about the economic outlook. Professional investors, no less than ordinary citizens, doubt the United States can resume the moderate expansion typical of the 1980s, let alone the rapid growth of the 1950s and 1960s.

Despite a deluge of negative news, much of it misleading and most of it politically inspired, the economy is chugging along. Indications are that gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, climbed to a record level in the third quarter, thus erasing its loss during 1990-91 recession.

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