Shop or We Drop
By Jesse Freund

(Business 2.0) – Inflation has been creeping up, employment growth is lackluster, GDP growth is cooling, and the Fed is expected to nudge interest rates up to 3 percent by early 2005. The economy's health is fragile but not alarming--so long as consumers keep spending. That's why economists will be paying attention on Sept. 30, when the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its Personal Income and Outlays report. If consumer spending growth hovers around 3.5 percent, it will signal that the Fed's efforts to keep inflation in check haven't put an end to America's economy-buoying shopping spree.