We are fast approaching a post-Ben Bernanke, post QE world where the central bank stops its purchases and the economy will go through an intense interregnum. It’s going to be scary, say some economists. As Ed Keon, the managing director and portfolio manager of Prudential Financial’s Quantitative Management Associates, put it at a Midtown Manhattan panel discussion in Times Square on Wednesday, “There be dragons here.”

“Markets are preparing for life after QE and after Ben Bernanke,” added John Praveen, chief investment strategist for Prudential International Investments Advisers.

Still, Keon is more sanguine about some of the opportunities next year. “I’m going to offer the least consensus and perhaps the craziest view of all, in that I think we are about to enter a period of rapid GDP acceleration,” he said.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that real GDP had grown only 1.8 percent in the first quarter, a downward revision from its previous estimate of 2.4 percent. Still, Keon’s rosier outlook stems from a conviction that, given the tax and sequestration shocks of this year, we should be in a recession already—and we aren’t.

“Recall we had a tax increase that amounted to just over 1 percent of GDP. According to the best academic research … that should have been expected to cut GDP growth by about 2 to 3 percent. At the same time, government spending, both in real terms both at the federal level and at the state and local level, has been a drag on GDP. That drag on GDP in the first quarter was about 1 percent.”

He compares the U.S. economy to the horse Secretariat being ridden by a sumo wrestler. “Yet we’re still growing at 1 percent to 2 percent in the first half this year.”

He says that as the drag from these taxes and spending cuts lose their impact next year, people will see that the private economy is still growing at a healthy clip, and that by the middle of next year we could see 5 percent growth for a couple of quarters.

Some might think that’s an eye-popping number, but Keon says the private sector has been strengthening. He says the housing recovery, among other things, will help goose GDP forward next year, since it is helping people restore their wealth and giving them a better potential source of credit. There is currently a pent-up demand for consumer goods, things like cars, washing machines, etc., that people have put off replacing in the lean recession years. That has created a goods gap that people will have to fill at the same time they have better access to credit and improving income.

But this rosier outlook comes at the same time many people are trying to figure out what the end of quantitative easing means, and not all the analysts on the panel were as sanguine. Quincy Krosby, the chief marketing strategist for Prudential Annuities, says we are in a period of transition with the plans to cut back QE. “Particularly during periods of transition you see what markets do,” she says. “They get nervous. They sell off and they unwind. And what that does is put pressure on other parts of the market.”

Krosby says that with so many products being designed for yield, it’s difficult to see what will happen until the Fed starts to let off the gas with its repurchases. “The question is, as we get closer to the actual tapering, the volatility will increase, the unwinding will increase and the selling pressures will increase. When average Americans get their statements and see that their beloved fixed income has now given them a negative … our question is, what do they do?”

She says that in the end we will return to fundamentals and the focus on equities will probably be in the U.S. “Money tends to go to where it’s best treated. It’s been best treated in the U.S. and we believe that it will continue to be best treated in the U.S. But the fact remains, the normalization of interest rates is going to be a rocky, rocky road. There are going to be a lot of detours. When we get there, however, the underpinnings for the market will be clearer … it will be more fundamentally driven and ultimately it will be healthier. But for right now, buckle up.”