More evidence, as if we needed it, that the U.S. economy is in sad shape. America’s gross domestic product grew just 1.3 percent in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department. And first-quarter growth was revised down to just 0.4 percent. This is now the weakest two-year recovery since World War II.
More importantly, it means we’re in the danger zone for another recession. Research from the Federal Reserve finds that that since 1947, when two-quarter annualized real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recession follows within a year 48 percent of the time. (And when year-over-year real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recession follows within a year 70 percent of the time.
Check out this depressing analysis from IHS Global Insight, one of the economics firms the White House regulatory likes to cite (but maybe not today):
There is little doubt that, since the summer of 2010, U.S. growth has faltered—the only question now is how much weaker could things get and how long will the (very) “soft patch” last. His Global Insight now expects that growth in the third quarter will come in much weaker than previously expected—probably less than 2 percent and possibly less than 1 percent.
There is no margin for error here. Nothing else can go wrong, such as, for instance, an EU sovereign debt crisis. Oh, wait:
Italian bond spreads have widened to new highs, while Spanish debt spreads are at the doorstep of their 2011 highs. The short-lived euphoria over last week’s expanded bailout proposal—a euphoria we did not share—appears to have worn off quickly. With weakness now bleeding into the European corporate bond market and into the core countries’ data releases, a double dip recession in the eurozone is a live possibility. We wish things were materially better on this side of the Atlantic … – Michael Darda, MKM Partners.
When Election Day 2012 rolls around, it will be the economy rather than the debt ceiling debate or the killing of Osama bin Laden that will most influence voters. And time is running for a dramatic turnaround that will substantially lower unemployment or boost incomes. Just today, Gallup released some nasty poll numbers for President Barack Obama:
The White House and its media surrogates will continue to argue that without the $800 billion stimulus, the economy would be even worse. Their models and multipliers are never questioned. But to many Americans, it looks like the car is headed back into the ditch, if it ever got out.