NEW YORK CITY—In many respects, the world was a different place in the year 2000. It was the dawn of a new millennium, the Y2K fears were over (and unfounded) and optimism reigned supreme. In terms of the economy, the US was soaring on growth, as both businesses and individuals enjoyed prosperity coming out of two terms under the Clinton Administration.

As the year 2000 started, the US economy had been growing at an average rate of more than 3.5% annually since 1991, when the expansion began. In fact, as of 1995, US economic growth averaged about 4.5% a year. As of February 2000, the economy had seen 108 straight months of growth, surpassing the prior growth record set in the 1960s.

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