The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) – The U.S. economy shrank much more than previously estimated in the first quarter, in the sharpest contraction in five years, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual pace in the first three months of the year, much worse than the previous estimate of 1.0 percent.

It was the steepest contraction since the 2009 first quarter, when GDP plunged 5.4 percent during the deep recession spawned by the 2008 financial crisis.

The Commerce Department said showed weaker growth in consumer spending, a larger increase in exports and higher imports than previous estimates.

The economy was hit by unusually severe winter weather in much of the country at the beginning of the year, after growth of 2.6 percent in the 2013 fourth quarter.

But the weak first quarter did not suggest that the U.S. is slipping into recession, technically defined as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, as second-quarter data has shown the economy rebounding.

The Federal Reserve has shrugged off the weak first quarter as largely weather-related. In June the Fed cut, for the fifth time in a row, $10 billion from its economic stimulus program, bringing it to $35 billion a month.

Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, called the first-quarter report “an outlier”.

“If anything, labor market indicators and business surveys are suggesting a net pick-up in the trend so far this year. We expect at least partial payback with a strong 4.0 percent rate of growth in Q2,” he said.

AFP Photo/Spencer Platt

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel, and a memoir.

Cruel as this may sound, I'm having a hard time cringing at the internet trolls now going after noisy right-wingers who propagandized against the coronavirus vaccine and then succumbed to the deadly disease.

One was Nick Bledsoe, a car mechanic in Opelika, Alabama. Bledsoe achieved minor celebrity opposing public efforts to contain COVID-19. He petitioned against school mask mandates and turned refusal to get shots into a political statement, negatively linking them to President Joe Biden. Bledsoe died of COVID at age 41, leaving a wife and four children.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}