Second quarter GDP data gave us more evidence that the recovery is slowing, with the pace of consumer spending easing. True, business spending picked up, but analysts said cash-flush companies were merely making up for ground lost during the recession. There was a big rise in inventories too, a worrying sign if businesses have too much stock in warehouses and on shelves, and people just aren’t buying.

OBAMA/Outside Washington, Obama took his “recovery summer” campaign to car factories in Detroit, where he patted himself on the back for keeping the plants open and saving jobs. In what is sure to be a major theme in the run-up to the November elections, he riffed on the theme of Republicans as the “Party of No.”

“If some folks had their way, none of this would have been happening.  Just want to point that out, right?  I mean … this plant and your jobs might not exist,” the president said. “There were leaders of the “Just Say No” crowd in Washington. They were saying, ‘Oh, standing by the auto industry would guarantee failure’… They don’t like admitting when I do the right thing.  But they might have had to admit it.” As Toby Zakaria observed in her blog today, “Probably shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that Mr. President.”

In what we hope is not a metaphor for his economic leadership, the president also went behind the wheel of a black Chevy Volt, the new environmentally friendly car backed by government bail-out cash which has yet to fire up the enthusiasm of auto reviewers. He buckled himself in and drove haltingly 10 feet at a crawling speed. “Pretty smooth,” the president concluded. Here’s hoping the recovery finds another gear.

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Imports slow US Q2 growth, business spending surges

Economic growth slowed in the second quarter as companies invested heavily in equipment from abroad and the pace of consumer spending eased, raising concerns about the recovery in the rest of 2010. The fastest rate of business spending in four years would normally be associated with increased confidence in the economy, but analysts said cash-flush companies were merely making up for ground lost during the recession.