This week I offer a rather narrow range of choice of scenarios: gloomy, gloomier, and gloomiest, leavened only with a brighter after thought. The merely gloomy forecasts anticipate unsatisfactory growth but no recession. Analysts of this view advance three arguments.

First, we are living through still another summer of our discontent, those months in which the growth engine of the U.S. economy inexplicably takes a vacation before returning to work. Second, there are signs of strength in the economy. The housing sector seems to be recovering, although with stumbles along the way. Good earnings reports from such as Boeing and Caterpillar prove that there are some signs of bright amid corporate gloom. Led by such stellar performers, it is not beyond imagining that the economy will bumble along, growing at 2 percent later this year and into 2013.