The American economy appears to be in a cyclical recovery that is gaining strength. Firms have begun to hire and consumer spending seems to be accelerating. That is what usually happens after particularly sharp recessions, so it is surprising that many commentators, whether economists or politicians, seem to doubt that such a thing could possibly be happening. Usually you can depend on the White House to view the economy with the most rose-tinted glasses available. But it was not until last week, after a strong employment report, that President Obama started to sound a little optimistic. “The tough measures that we took — measures that were necessary even though sometimes they were unpopular — have broken this slide and are helping us to climb out of this recession,” he said in a speech at a factory making battery components in North Carolina.