Ever hear a wet firecracker explode? It's a bit muffled - and is usually preceded by a kind of paper-tearing sound - "fffft-boom!"
The economy right now seems to be a wet firecracker - exploding, but in a muffled way.
Even the Federal Reserve acknowledges that job creation may not pick up substantially until 2005. And with the threat of global terrorism, one must always temper one's expectations.
It's likely we'll not see the kind of "irrational exuberance" Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan warned about in the 1990s.
And we must keep in mind that manufacturing is what made this country great - and we've lost 2.5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. We can't continue to be great by merely pressing each other's pants. We have to make things.
But neither should we be dour when the economy is so promising. Productivity is up, employment has more than stabilized - and the stock market reached the psychologically important 10,000 mark late last week.
Despite the campaign rhetoric, we're on the right track, and things will be getting better.
Muffled or not, the firecracker is finally going off.