French economic growth unexpectedly picked up to 0.3 percent in the final three months of last year, welcome news and a rare positive shock for some particularly gloomy forecasters who were looking for shrinkage or no growth at all.
Weak U.S. economic growth in the first quarter was driven in part by a pullback in business investment — but a sharp decline in government spending also played a role. Gross domestic product grew 2.2 percent, well short of the Reuters consensus forecast of 2.5 percent. Business spending fell 2.1 percent while government expenditures saw a 3 percent drop linked to lower defense spending. Consumer spending proved a bright spot in the report, climbing 2.9 percent. Still, there is concern that this too could fade because an unusually warm winter may have brought some spending forward.
Spend more now, save more later. It may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but it’s the best prescription for getting out of deep economic ruts, according to a new paper from Bradford DeLong and Lawrence Summers, former economic policymakers now in academia.
Thanks to a big jump in government spending, the U.S. economy didn’t shrink quite as dramatically as expected. While investors breathed a sigh of relief over the relatively modest 0.3 percent decline in third-quarter GDP, a look behind the numbers shows the main pillar of the economy crumbling.