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If you’re totally confused about the state of the U.S. economy these days, you’re hardly alone. A quick perusal of recent economic commentary shows that the supposed best economic minds in the country are hopelessly befuddled, too – only they don’t seem to know it. Our leaders’ inability to figure out whether the current recovery is a sign of genuinely improving economic health, or mainly the product of Federal Reserve-supplied steroids, is especially critical these days. For the Fed is seriously considering putting the economy on a cold turkey path.

It’s clear that we can dismiss President Obama’s bold State of the Union claim that America has “turned the page” and had enjoyed a “breakthrough year” economically in 2014. Growth did accelerate in the middle of last year, and the unemployment rate (conventionally measured) is now about half what it was at the recession’s nadir.

But since peaking (by recent standards) at a five percent annual rate in the third quarter of last year, inflation-adjusted GDP growth slowed to 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and the first quarter 2015 figure will be lucky to be that high. Still sluggish wage improvement, moreover, indicates that most of the nation’s new jobs have been lousy – more specifically, nowhere near good enough to support the kind of responsible spending needed for real economic liftoff. Moreover, even the best official numbers can’t reveal whether the recovery is mainly real, and sustainable, or mainly artificial, and highly vulnerable to the return of interest rates to quasi-normal levels.

Maybe Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve, has it figured out? Judging from her latest public remarks, not even close. Speaking March 27 at a conference sponsored by the San Francisco Fed, Yellen repeated the central bank’s “serious consideration to beginning to reduce later this year some of the extraordinary monetary policy accommodation currently in place” because its “data dependent” policy approach has finally revealed “substantial” recovery in the nation’s labor markets that she considers likely to continue because of faster growth, and the expectation that very weak recent inflation rates stem mainly from “transitory” factors.

Yet in the same speech, Yellen warned that

we must bear in mind that these very welcome improvements have been achieved in the context of extraordinary monetary accommodation. While the overall level of real activity now appears to be much closer to its potential than it was a year or two ago, the economy in an ‘underlying’ sense remains quite weak by historical standards, for the simple reason that the increases in hiring and output that have been achieved thus far have required exceptionally low levels of short- and longer-term interest rates, reflecting a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy. Interest rates have been, and remain, very low, and if underlying conditions had truly returned to normal, the economy should be booming.”

Her (weird) bottom line? As Yellen initially announced in her press conference following the last Fed policy-setting meeting, “the appropriate time has not yet arrived” even to start reducing the supply of easy money. But the economy might show enough signs of genuine strength to “warrant an increase in the federal funds rate target sometime this year” – i.e., sometime in the next nine months. That would be one heckuva turnaround in that period of time.

But maybe no one associated with government knows what they’re talking about, and we should turn to the private sector. Maybe indeed. But the newest economic forecasts from the National Association for Business Economics shouldn’t inspire much confidence there, either. According to the NABE consensus, 2015 will see inflation-adjusted annual U.S. growth rise from 2.4 percent all the way to 3.1 percent. The unemployment rate should fall even further (though slowly), wage growth will pick up gradually, consumer spending will advance faster – and corporate profit growth will fall “sharply.”

The NABE seems to see the strong dollar and its effects on U.S. exports (making them more expensive than their competitors) as a major reason for Corporate America’s comparative woes. But not only are exports still a relatively small share of the economy. The most authoritative projections anticipate the United States growing faster than most of the rest of the world for the near future.

And here’s the final (for now) complication: Where Yellen is unmistakably right is in her pointed reminder in San Francisco that, unless the Fed changes its telegraphed plans radically, any interest rate hikes it approves for the time being will be tiny, and announced very gradually. In other words, the U.S. economy will remain on its current, long, strange drug-induced trip indefinitely.

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