RUH-ROH, ECONOMY …
The U.S. economy shrunk by a whopping 2.9 percent during the first quarter of 2014, according to revised figures released this week by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
That shrinkage is nearly three times as large as the most recent estimate, which revealed a one percent contraction …
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the worst gross domestic product (GDP) reading since the first quarter of 2009 – when the Great Recession was announcing its presence with authority. It also makes it all but impossible for the economy to achieve the 2-3 percent annual growth central planners were projecting for 2014. Hell … at this point 1.5 percent annual growth is looking optimistic.
Wall Street was undeterred, though … stocks climbed in response to the news and the bailout recipients toasted better times to come.
“We caution against reading too much into the weakness, as it is clear that special factors during the quarter distorted growth,” Bank of America’s Ethan Harris said, adding that “the severe winter weather weighed heavily on consumption, fixed investment and trade.”
That’s true … (just don’t tell the global warming Nazis).
But even if Bank of America’s projection of four percent growth in the second quarter (a.k.a. the “pent-up demand” theory) is accurate, the economy is still not expanding fast enough to accommodate all the people who need jobs.
Which is the real problem …
Without a steady increase in jobs (to keep track of population growth and employ all those who have lost jobs during the downturn), the consumer economy will never recover. In fact, the BEA specifically singled out a “smaller than previously estimated” increase in personal consumption expenditures as one of the main contributing factors in the latest downward GDP revision.
Oh, it’s also worth noting that every other GDP reading this bad has been equated with an economic recession … which is defined as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.