Thanks to mildly encouraging small business hiring, mildly increasing consumer demand, and a mild uptick in the real estate market, economists and businessmen across America are becoming afflicted with "economic optimism," at least to the extent necessary to justify a USA Today "Money" section feature. Smell that? It's a course. We're back on it!

"We're finally getting back on course," says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi...

"It smells like things are getting better," says Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB's chief economist.

Meanwhile, Nouriel Roubini says there's a 50% chance of a US recession next year, as well as "a sharp slowdown in China" and a virtually assured recession in Europe. So, it definitely smells like either economic recovery, or further movement towards the drastic revolutionary radicalization of the vast former middle class in developing and developed nations.

Thank god the world is not flat. That could be bad!

[USAT. Photo: AP]