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Football, bagels and the economy.

While the upstart Carolina Panthers were making sure that the Dallas Cowboys would not repeat as Super Bowl champions Sunday, two Fed governors jawed about how they expect more of the same from the economy in 1997.

Between sessions at the annual meeting of the

Allied Social Science Association

--a get-together for more than 7,000 academic economists--

Federal Reserve Governor Laurence Meyer

told reporters that he believes there is no need for the Fed to move on interest rates given the continued long-term trend of modest economic growth and tame inflation. Another Fed governor,

Lawrence Lindsey

, echoed similar sentiments about the state of the economy.

Their outspoken confidence "underscores the notion that the Fed is on hold--even with the faster-growing economy," says Richard B. Berner, chief economist at

Mellon Bank

in Pittsburgh. "In 1996, their patience was rewarded."

Berner, however, feels that the Fed will eventually be forced to tighten monetary policy in the first half of the year as the economy grows at a 3.1% clip before slowing down in the last six months to a 1.8% pace. Inflation, he suspects, will pick up a little bit, and he believes weakening energy prices will keep inflation around the modest 3% level.

Tuesday's numbers:

Factory Orders

TheStreet Recommends

(10:00 AM EST): The November report may be overshadowed by the jobs number coming on Friday. Economists expect orders will show a decline of 0.8%, a sharp reversal from October's jump of 0.9%. The durable goods component of the report came out down 1.6% two weeks ago but is subject to revision.

LJR Redbook Retail Report

(2:55 PM EST): The weekly reading for same-store sales of the largest department, discount and chain stores is expected to fall 0.25%. When will the hurtin' stop for our nation's retailers?

Treasury Sales

(2:30 PM EST): Some three- and six-month Treasury bills will hit the auction block.

Fed Speech

(8:20 AM EST):

Boston Fed President Catherine Minehan

will address business leaders in Hartford, CT.

Oil Stocks and Petroleum Data

(5:00 PM EST): The weekly report by the

American Petroleum Institute

will clue us in on whether energy stores--and costs--will stabilize, as many analysts now expect.

By Avi Stieglitz