Heading into 2012, the US seems less caught up in global economic uncertainty than decoupling from it, at least temporarily. “The US will outpace Europe in the coming year, and by more than most people expect,” says Richard Mack, North America CEO of AREA Property Partners in New York City, although he adds that is this is “due more to European weakness than US strength.” Asieh Mansour, CBRE's San Francisco-based head of Americas research, puts it a little differently: “The US fundamentally will avoid a recession. Many of the fundamentals of the US economy are much better, in comparison to Europe.”

Yet this may not last. Although some key US economic indicators have been trending upward for months, with a slightly steeper climb in the fourth quarter, the footing is still shaky. Mack terms China's near-term economic outlook “the big unknown,” and Mansour cites that Asian powerhouse and Europe's sovereign debt crisis as the two major risk areas in terms of the global economy.

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