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Prospects for the U.S. economy ended 2011 on a positive note with economic reports that were stronger than expected. The U.S. continues to recover from the recession of 2008-2009, albeit at a glacial pace. December marked a month in which the eocnomy expanded and consumer confidence improved. While it is easy to take a rarther gloomy view of the U.S. economy, evidence suggests that things are getting better.