NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The economy seem to be getting better, and just as importantly, Americans seem to believe the economy is getting better.
Of course, nobody is waving pom-poms and popping champagne corks over recent economic data. Those data show moderate growth, at best, in key areas such as jobs, housing and consumer spending.
But with the fiscal cliff behind the country, financial industry observers say the U.S. may have crossed a critical point in building momentum toward a more robust recovery.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Chicago-based Mesirow Financial, says the U.S. economy is at a turning point and primed for the strongest growth since 2007 -- if Washington can continue to get its act together."Economic fundamentals are improving," she says. "Home prices are rising instead of falling; this is finally generating a more meaningful recovery in housing." In addition, "cuts to state and local government budgets ... are abating and removing the greatest headwind to employments gains. Plus, corporate America is flush with cash. All that's needed is a dose of certainty to release those funds and invest in the future." That's not all. A study from American Express (AXP) says more Americans are financially "optimistic" this year than last year (39% to 35%) and know they are going to spend more cash this year:
- More Americans say they will hike spending on tourism and travel (26% this year, versus 22% last year).
- More Americans say they will spend on clothing and accessories this year (28% vs. 23%).
- More Americans plan to dine out (19% vs. 14%).
- More Americans expect to go to concerts, sporting events and other entertainment venues (19% to 14%).
- The largest "big ticket" purchases will be new cars (26%), followed by major household appliances (17%) and home renovations (11%). About 8% of Americans say they are buying a home.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV