No, the sky is not falling and is not going to in the foreseeable future.Despite the words of pundits and prognosticators on virtually every TV channel these days, this is not a realistic assessment of where the American economy is headed.And more importantly, those who believe everything they hear help to perpetuate what could become a self-fulfilling prophecy - and that is the frightening part of what's been happening in recent months. We know of one operator who laid off an employee - not because business was so bad, but because he wanted to "be prepared" for what might lie ahead.A friend and I were discussing this last night offer dinner at the bar of Legal Sea Foods' restaurant on Boston harbor. It's one of those restaurants that always seems to be busy, and while it was quiet when I arrived around 6:30, it quickly got fuller.This in itself tells me that on a chilly Wed. night, people are still finding it's a 'fine time to dine' or a fine time to gather with friends over a glass of fine and a bowl of chowder.The University of Chicago Alumni Assocation in Boston recently had an emeritus professor of economics, Robert Aliber, as a guest speaker. The room was absolutely packed.Professor Aliber spoke a year ago, predicting the course of the Dow and other economic indicators and all of his predictions, it seems, were one that came to pass.This year, with an economy that sometimes feels like a nightmare, many apparently felt it was even more important to hear what he said.Speaking about Iceland's difficulties this year, he noted that in that country, the cod are "still running nicely, it still has hydro and geo-thermal power and human capital. Renegotiating debt contracts will take a year. But, the real assets are still there and the same is true in the United States."The year ahead, he believes, "will be difficult with more bankruptcies and foreclosures. But the decline will diminish after the first quarter of 2009."After a year of no growth, the economy will turn positive, Aliber forecasts. "The economy of the world is...just stalled," he says. "We'll come out of this restructuring and see growth of three to four percent."The forecast was heartening. Those who cackle and flap will merely make the situation all the worse. This is a time to evaluate how to move through hard times most effectively without panic. And it's going to be a 'fine time to dine"!