New GDP data released today shows an economy that continues to grow, though at a disappointingly moderate pace.
The good news is that GDP growth picked up after the weak, snow-encrusted first quarter of 2015, when the economy eked out a 0.6 percent growth rate. The bad news is that growth was expected to hit a 2.5 percent rate or better in the second quarter, but initial estimates arriving today pegged that rate at 2.3 percent. Over the first six months of the year, the economy has expanded at an annual rate of 1.5 percent.
The U.S. recession officially ended in the second quarter of 2009. Since then, growth has been relatively steady but lackluster. Compared to other recoveries since the end of World War II, the current recovery is notably weak – without question the weakest of the bunch. The average annual growth rate from 2011 through 2014 was 2.0 percent, based on updated figured released today.
Economists have argued about the causes — a glut of capital, excessive regulation, the domination of finance, low wages driving weak demand — but the simple fact remains: This is a feeble recovery.
This graphic we produced on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’s website tells the story – look for the bright red line:
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The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”