Plenty of room for noninflationary growth
At the moment, there are no reasons to worry about rising inflation expectations. Unit labor costs in the fourth quarter declined 1.6 percent from the year earlier as a result of strong productivity gains and weak wage increases. For last year as a whole, unit labor costs rose only 0.8 percent.
More of the same can be expected in the months ahead because, even under conditions of modest economic activity, a slow take up of the labor market slack will lead to productivity growth that will offset most of the underlying wage gains of about 2 percent.
The Fed's recent statements show that they are well aware of that. The U.S. monetary authorities are not fooled by a surprisingly fast decline of the unemployment rate. They know that the actual jobless rate last month was double the officially reported rate of 6.6 percent – if one adds to the unemployment rolls involuntary part-time workers and people marginally attached to the labor force.
The Treasury and the Fed are also turning their attention to the external demand for American goods and services.
(Read more: Janet Yellen is NOT Ben Bernanke)
Worrying about one-fifth of U.S. exports that go to Europe, Washington wants to see more supportive economic policies in the recession-ridden euro area. The focus is now on Germany, which is seen as holding back the euro zone growth with its staggering current account surplus of 7 percent of GDP.
The U.S. has less of a case against China. The Chinese current account surplus is below 2 percent of GDP, growth is increasingly led by domestic demand, China's imports are growing at a rate of 10 percent or more, and the yuan's exchange rate is being forced up by capital inflows Beijing finds increasingly difficult to control.
All this will be part of the next meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Sydney, Australia on February 20-22, 2014.
Based on this analysis, I remain optimistic about the U.S. economic outlook.
(Read more: Bad jobs reports won't change tapering: Yellen)
Yes, the U.S. has structural problems with its welfare programs, its income distribution is unacceptably skewed and its birth rates are falling. But all that is widely known and is part of a lively public policy debate. Therefore, I see no point of harping on these issues just to find something to be down on the U.S. economy.
My investment strategy conclusions also remain largely unchanged. I like U.S. equities, but I don't like bonds. I am more positive about gold, because I believe that geopolitical instabilities, strengthening growth in developed economies, and some central banks' asset diversifications will support gold prices.
Michael Ivanovitch is president of MSI Global, a New York-based economic research company. He also served as a senior economist at the OECD in Paris, international economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and taught economics at Columbia.