It looks like 2014 could inaugurate a new era of optimism in the US economy. Spurring on this positivity is the recent passage of a budget deal. After an almost default on government debt in 2011, a 16-day government shutdown in October, and absolute gridlock in Congress, a budget deal has finally passed and things are looking up. It looks like fear has finally been replaced by reason. Let’s take a look at all the things that are going well. Consumer Confidence Is Up It’s essential to remember that the consumer is the engine behind economic acceleration, driving more than 70% of GDP. Luckily, consumer confidence is on the rise and by all accounts aforementioned confidence will continue to rise through 2014. Partly driving this increase in consumer confidence is a decline in consumer debt. The aggregate debt/disposable income ratio has dropped from 125% at the 2007 peak to 100%. […]