10 Signs the Economy Is Improving

Record Corporate Profits

Standard & Poor's 500 Index shows 2010 was the third-best year for corporations since 1998. Even adjusted for inflation, corporate profits were much more robust in 2010 than in 2009, showing a 17 percent increase. This figure excludes financial corporations, who had such a terrible 2009 that they'd make those profits look artificially huge if they were included [source: Shipman & Vigna].

If you believe that vast corporate profits will inevitably "trickle down" to enrich other parts of the U.S. economy, then this is purely good news. While there's plenty of debate over whether corporate profits really do help the economy, they're almost certainly better than large-scale corporate losses.