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There's a Huge Gap Between American Economic Hopes and Reality

Fed officials waiting on the details of new Trump plans
Photographer: Simon Weller/Getty Images

Surveys of businesses and consumers have shown a surge in confidence since the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, as hopes for growth-lifting fiscal stimulus and deregulation have increased. But actual economic activity has yet to catch up.

Survey measures of confidence have bested economists' forecasts over the past month by the most since March 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Official government statistics on economic activity, especially in housing, retail sales, and factory production, haven't yet shown the same upside surprises.

If anything, those data releases have been slightly disappointing on net recently. That may catch the attention of the Federal Reserve officials watching for evidence that hope translates into stronger economic activity as they weigh the timing of the next rise in interest rates.