Debt could derail recovery

February 19, 2012
The trove of statistics and reports released last week point to an economy on the mend.

U.S. homebuilders are feeling increasingly optimistic about their battered industry. Consumer spending is on the rise. America’s factories are humming again. Stocks, in turn, have been climbing.

Not so fast, cautions Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist for the wealth management firm Robert W. Baird & Co. and a devil’s advocate.

It’s not that Bittles disagrees with the upbeat but backward-looking numbers coming out of Washington lately.

“Things are starting to feel better, and the stock market is a representation of that,” he said during an hourlong talk in Charleston last week for Milwaukee-based Baird’s local advisers and clients.

But peering down the road to recovery, the veteran market watcher has spotted some dangerous potholes ahead. He’s more than a bit “suspect” that the fragile rebound will have legs.

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