Hey, GOP: Don't screw up the economic recovery.

The good news: Americans have started borrowing again.

The bad news: Americans have started borrowing again.

Actually, it's big news, whether good or bad, because it represents a major change in consumer behavior since the economy began tanking in 2008. It means that for whatever reason, borrowers have enough confidence to once again go into debt. And lenders have enough confidence that they'll get paid back.

It could mean the return of some degree of self-assurance among some, if only a few, Americans. If it's a trend, the increased spending financed by the borrowing could help pull us out of the recession.

Or it might mean that Americans are returning to habits that got us into this mess in the first place. And that the frugality that was enforced on them by job uncertainty and tumbling home values is a lesson in danger of being forgotten.

So which is it? Good or bad news? No wonder economics is called the dismal science.

Continue reading on the Chicago Tribune op-ed page.

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    Dennis Byrne

    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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