The U.S. economy has never looked stronger. It has been powerful enough to pull Asia out of its recession, has fueled growth in Europe and stabilized the economies of South America. The Federal Reserve's pre-emptive rate hikes, designed to sacrifice short-term growth spurts in the interest of a longer, smoother, more sustainable recovery, have worked: the economy's growth rate has decelerated while the expansion moves toward an all-time record for longevity.