WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is caught in an awkward, painful place. A confusing one, too. Growth appears to be sputtering, home sales are tumbling and economists warn of a potential recession ahead. But consumers keep spending, businesses keep posting profits and the economy keeps adding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. In the midst of it all, prices have accelerated to four-decade highs, and the Federal Reserve is desperately trying to douse the inflationary flames with higher interest rates. That’s making borrowing more expensive for households and businesses. The Fed hopes to pull off the triple axel of central banking: Slow the economy just enough to curb inflation without causing a recession.