May 29, 2015

Surprise! First Quarter GDP in the Tank

A month ago, the government pegged GDP growth at a tentative 0.2% for the first quarter of 2015. However, as we noted at the time, revisions knocked last year’s first quarter GDP down by a staggering two percentage points — from 0.1% to -2.1% — meaning the economy actually contracted to start off 2014. That inevitably raised the question: Is a repeat in the offing? We now know the answer to that question, and it’s a resounding yes. Today, Commerce Department revisions showed first quarter GDP was lower than initially reported. Instead of 0.2% growth — an already sluggish number — January-March GDP now stands at -0.7%. The Wall Street Journal reports, “The latest downgrade came after new data showed a wider trade deficit and a slower pace of restocking by firms than earlier estimates, damping demand at factories and service providers. Those developments added to an already bleak picture of weak consumer spending and a downturn in business investment.” And according to Reuters, “With growth estimates so far for the second quarter around 2 percent, the economy appears poised for its worst first-half performance since 2011.” A myriad of rehashed excuses are already flooding in — from winter weather woes to flawed government methods to a mere hiccup — but it’s not like the economy ever gained much footing under the Obama recovery to begin with.

Addendum: Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote of Friday’s report, “[F]irst-quarter underperformance … has tended to increase over the past ten years, in parallel with intensifying winter weather.” In other words, blame “climate change.” Yet in his State of the Union in January, Barack Obama proudly declared, “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” Both assertions illustrate the art of the BIG Lie.

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