Analysis: Economy shedding debt but shackled by pessimism

photoWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans are making progress in working down their heavy debt burden, but are struggling to break out of another funk holding back the economy: their deep pessimism. Some economists point to a big drop in household debt as a sign that American consumers – once considered the driving force of the world economy – are primed to return to more spendthrift ways. But standing in the way of a stronger recovery, and possibly President Barack Obama’s re-election as well, are unprecedented levels of concern that better days may not lie ahead. …