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Byline: Bob Rayner
Dec. 27--WHAT A YEAR THIS WAS, ECONOMICALLY SPEAKING: With 2003 fading fast, and the columnist's inventory of story ideas as sparse as Saddam's final hiding place, we'll resort to that venerable refuge of newspaper folk eager to head home for the holidays: the year in review.
The year began with much worry. As it ends, serious concerns remain. But in the final analysis, 2003 turned out to be, more than anything else, a year of significant progress.
During the first quarter, the economy was growing at a paltry 1.4 percent annual rate. By the third quarter, that had vaulted to 8.2 percent. The fourth quarter's advance may moderate a …