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 leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have all proposed increasing taxes on corporations, including raising income tax rates to levels ranging from 25% to 35%, up from the current 21% imposed by the Republican tax cuts in 2017. With Bernie Sanders leading the way at $3.9 trillion, here’s how much revenue the higher proposed corporate taxes, along with additional proposed surtaxes and reduced tax breaks, would generate over a decade, according to calculations by the right-leaning Tax Foundation, highlighted Wednesday by Bloomberg News.
The federal government’s total non-defense discretionary spending – which covers everything from education and national parks to veterans’ medical care and low-income housing assistance – equals 3.2% of GDP in 2020, near historic lows going back to 1962, according to an analysis this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated this week that President Trump has now signed legislation that will add a total of $4.7 trillion to the national debt between 2017 and 2029. Tax cuts and spending increases account for similar portions of the projected increase, though if the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Republican overhaul are extended beyond their current expiration date at the end of 2025, they would add another $1 trillion in debt through 2029.
Are interest rates destined to move higher, increasing the cost of private and public debt? While many experts believe that higher rates are all but inevitable, historian Paul Schmelzing argues that today’s low-interest environment is consistent with a long-term trend stretching back 600 years.
The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.