Wicked, the musical sings and dances through a story of a supposedly green evil witch who is killed after a house falls on her during a terrible storm. Some may consider it a parable to the U.S. economy.

For the past 4.5 years (has it really been that long?) we have struggled with our banks not having cash, (TARP: Feds spending tax payer’s money to save the banks!), foreclosures (it’s the mother of all depressions!) unemployment, (Yikes!) China, (shaking their booties in our faces with their elitist economic prowess!). But wait. 2012 is bringing glimmers of change.

The housing market in Phoenix is experiencing multiple bids on homes below $300,000 and half are cash offers. (Although the appraisals for lending have not received the memo.) Arizona computer chip and aero space industries are hiring. Trucks with construction workers have reappeared on our highways. The banks displayed strength with all but three of the top 19 getting a thumbs up from the Fed.

Corporations stashed cash over the past few years and are disclosing healthy profits…. and Wall Street is loving it. Apple saved over 84 billion dollars in cash and allegedly stockpiled more money than the U. S. Government. The bond market is recovering which means yields are going up (and so will interest rates, say goodbye to 3.5%) Consumers shed their debt (short sale, anyone?) and maybe we have learned to save a few pennies.

What could prevent us from finally getting our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Oil prices? Food? Housing? Idiotic government policy? And how long can we pretend the government deficit has too many zeros to type?

China must be turning green from all of the talk of housing bubbles and the slowdown of their economy. We would really like to sing ding-dong the Asian witch is ailing, but too much of a Chinese downfall could hurt our still fragile economy.

The yellow brick road has always been fraught with flying monkeys. And being green yesterday may not have been such a bad thing. The boxed wine today does not taste nearly as bad as buying a bottle yesterday that I couldn’t afford.

Diane Gerdes