Consumers were among the heroes of late 2010. Feeding off any green shoot that became evident on the fundamentals front, "animal spirits" surged, suggesting that still highly leveraged households may aim to lead the rebound. Not so fast, reports Reuters. "an unemployment rate at 9.8 percent and roughly 15 million Americans out of work, not to mention millions more working part-time who would prefer a full-time job, bodes ill for a robust recovery in spending. Households, moreover, remain focused on deleveraging, which further constrains the outlook. Consumers for 24 months in a row have been paying down mortgage and other debt, which reached record levels before the 2007-2008 recession."

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