For the Federal Reserve and its chairman, economic forecasting is far from a dismal science. In testimony before Congress this week, Chairman Alan Greenspan offered a view of the economy that was perfectly Panglossian . The economy is strong, the outlook is great and inflation isn't a problem, at least not yet. Stock investors don't seem to be buying the rosy scenario. While the market did rally in the wake of the speech, it's recently taken a turn for the worse on concerns that profit growth may be slowing down. The Nasdaq has now broken below its May lows and the Dow and S&P 500 are closing in on their lowest levels for the year, perhaps signaling that Greenspan's assessment of the economy is wrong. "To me, Greenspan is the personification of Dr. Pangloss from Voltaire's Candide," said Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust. "Dr. Pangloss was this eternal optimist despite everything bad that happened to him and everyone around him." Although Greenspan did point out some risks to his optimistic outlook, including terrorism and continued business caution, he suggested that the economy would accelerate in the second half of the year. Indeed, the central bank is predicting growth of 4.5% to 4.75% "over the four quarters of 2004." Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland, said this forecast implies growth of about 4.8% for the remaining three quarters. The economy is expected to grow just 3.8% in the second quarter after climbing 3.9% in the first. "If growth was only 4% in the second quarter, the economy would have to grow well in excess of 5.5% the remainder of the year," Morici said. "Given the unsold inventory at General Motors ( GM) and Ford ( F), the news on housing starts ... and other data floating around, 4.5% to 4.75% growth seems a bit optimistic."