Despite a strong week for U.S. stocks, some strategists suggest that the road to economic recovery could be longer than anticipated.
"I think it's possible that this could be a long recovery," Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday. "If productivity does not recover, I still think recession risk within a couple years remains fairly high."
And, if we see a bounce in productivity, we could be in the middle of what might prove to be the longest recovery in U.S. history, Paulsen noted.
Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, agreed that market watchers should be "laser focused" on productivity.
"If productivity fails to pick up, that means no corporate profitability. It also means that we hit that danger zone of price spillover sooner than what the Fed would like," Zentner said in the same "Squawk on the Street" segment. "That will get the Fed into a situation where they have to hike faster, but not for the right reasons."
In terms of the U.S. central bank's preferred gauge to determine inflation, Zentner said she believes the Fed will continue to look at the core price index for personal consumption expenditures rather than the core consumer price index. She did not think the CPI report released Friday had any "game changer implications," even though consumer prices their largest gain in nearly 4 ½ years.
"There's a lot of confusing macro data out there. We're not out of the woods yet," said Chris Hyzy, managing director and chief investment officer at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. "This is a shark tooth type of market which is a little sharper than a saw tooth per se, with different directions going through it. But, at the end of the year, you end the year higher."
Hyzy told "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Friday that the economy may be slowing down, but we are not headed for a recession.
"There's going to be more transparency that the slowdown isn't a recession, and that the global worries out there, notwithstanding geopolitical events, are ones that we can handle."
Correction: An earlier version misspelled Jim Paulsen's last name.