At the close of a year marked by economic fits and starts, the balance appears to be reasonably positive. After a devastating 2009, the first half of 2010 appeared to herald a fairly strong recovery, but the air started leaking out of the balloon in the third quarter. The pace of job growth and industrial production slowed by October and all eyes scanned the economic horizon in the United States to see if we faced a double-dip recession or just a temporary stall. The jury is still out of course, but as data for the fourth quarter and the holiday shopping season trickle in, it looks like the recovery may be picking up again. Estimates of GDP growth for 2010 are in the range of 5%, with an approximate 3.5% projected for 2011 at this time. The recovery from 2009 was uneven, with sectors such as tourism still trying to find their footing after steep losses, but big rebounds were posted in areas such as automotive, aerospace, electronics and medical device manufacturing, as well as software. As Mexicans return to work at the start of the new year, we face the twin challenges of sustained economic recovery and the struggle against the drug cartels. The world economy may provide the opportunity to get the recovery going, but a reduction in the overall level of violence related to drug trafficking is imperative if the country is to make any serious progress. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until after the 2012 presidential election for that to happen.