U.S. stocks could hit an all-time high next year, Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist of Wells Capital Management, told CNBC TV.

Paulsen, which some consider a so-called “permabull,” said the stock market has pulled to the top of its current range because fears of a U.S. double-dip recession has faded.

(Chart below from Google showing the current trading range of the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average)

Paulsen actually thinks the U.S. economy was never in danger of slipping back into recession, but people only feared it because we have the most “crisis-phobic culture” in the post-WWII era.

He thinks U.S. economic growth could accelerate into 2012 and propel the markets to all-time highs.  For the S&P 500, hitting the all-time high would take it almost 30 percent above current levels.

What about Europe, the gridlock in Washington, and the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to roll out further quantitative easing?

Paulsen does not care. 

He thinks the U.S. economy can grow despite the European debt crisis and does not need additional fiscal and monetary stimulus.

He said “free market capitalism” – aided by the low mortgage rates, fast money supply growth, and lower energy prices already in place – will power the economic growth and drive the markets higher from what he considers to be cheap valuations.

Paulsen’s view differs dramatically from known bears like Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics.

Most recently, Roubini warned at a conference in London that U.S. and core European economic growth rates are “backsliding” and Italy and Spain were “on the cusp of a return to recession,” reported Dow Jones Newswires.