But after a Congress vote against steep income tax increases and spending cuts, the stock market rallied this month. It seems that indicators are pointing to a brighter year ahead: there are gains in US employment, housing and consumer confidence. The central bank has promised to keep interest rates low.
But plenty of risks remain and 2013 promises to be a year of uncertainty. US debt has ballooned to more than US$16 trillion, exceeding the country's annual GDP.
The debt is largely the result of persistent federal budget deficits, tax cuts, economic stimulus packages and extravagant military spending. To avoid a default on US debts, Congress has repeatedly raised the debt ceiling. That is a short-term fix, not a solution, to the problems.
America's credibility has been taking hits with investors and credit-rating companies. Even as the country borrows more money, mainly from China, the fears are that it won't be able to pay back its mounting debts. We are in for a precarious 2013. We should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.