Is the economic pot half full or half empty?
Personally, I have always had to fight myself to see things as half full, my natural inclination being to take a more pessimistic line and perceive them to be half empty. It works much the same in politics.
Despite their appearance of being almost constantly at war one can argue that the key to New Labour is the contrasting leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
The sum of the parts is greater than the two of them on their own, and, whatever their differences, they have been clever enough to see that. Interesting then whether Labour will be quite the same force once Blair hands over to Brown.
Those who say the economy is half empty cite lacklustre GDP growth, rising unemployment, a manufacturing sector which remains weak, and a stuttering high street.
Those who say it is half full point to decent Christmas sales, signs of life in the housing market and a revived Stock Market which is both comforting middle England and once again providing big bonuses for fat cat City professionals, lawyers and accountants.
Not surprising then that the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee last week decided to keep rates on hold.
I reckon the Bank is always far too timid in its handling of the economy, but even I can see its dilemma this time round.
It had in any case been well signposted that the MPC would want both more time to see how retail had gone over Christmas/New Year and a little longer to work out whether high oil prices have fed into wage inflation.
Wage inflation does not seem to be a threat for the moment albeit expect a monthly blip along the way once those City bonuses kick in.
As for the high street, I must admit to picking it slightly wrong.
I had expected the lengthy slowdown to have continued into the festive period, with sales flat.
But people obviously had had enough and fancied a decent Christmas.
So they splashed out a bit - not a lot but sufficient to give most of the large stores a boost. We have seen that in improved British Retail Consortium figures and a spate of trading statements, which, with a few exceptions, have seen an uplift.
What is going to be particularly fascinating is to what degree the High Street holds on to the Santa factor and the sales frenzy or whether it was a consumer one-off and trade reverts to the disappointing levels prevailing for much of 2005.
I suspect the latter.
Why? Because with unemployment edging up, a growing number of people are likely to fear job insecurity and, with most pundits reckoning the housing market will remain subdued, there will be less easy money around from re-mortgaging.
And, with the penny having finally dropped, it seems, on people's awareness that their debt levels are too high, it is hard to see any fast buck for the store chains.
The BRC, Marks & Spencer and others remain cautious. Sentiment, I suggest, is still in the half empty camp rather than the half full one.