For much of 2008, the daily, weekly and monthly drumbeat of economic data was largely ignored by financial market participants, who were more focused on the health and survival of the global financial system. That dynamic was in place again last week, as markets pretty much brushed aside a mixed batch of economic data for November, December and early January, and focused instead on another round of bad news from U.S. banks and financial institutions. The data that was released revealed an economy that continued to decelerate to the downside in nominal terms as the fourth quarter drew to a close, but adjusted for rapidly falling prices, economic growth in "real" terms and Q4 2008 is on track to be better than current expectations.

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