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In our last commentary, we pointed to the ongoing slide in net new credit creation by households (the largest component of the private sector in the United States) as a historic event that signaled a dramatic change in the country’s financial inner workings. This raises two important questions. First, can government spending spur a sustainable recovery in the absence of private sector borrowing and spending? Second, will the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government be able to stimulate risk-taking as households, corporations, and investors seek to reduce leverage? The answer to these two questions will largely determine what kind of year 2009 turns out to be.