Friday, June 29, 2012

Latest Data Show Slow GDP Growth, Falling Profits

The final estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows U.S. real GDP growing at a sluggish 1.9 percent annual rate in Q1 2012, the same as in the second estimate released at the end of May.  Nominal GDP grew at a 3.9 percent annual rate. That is slightly faster than previously estimated but still well below the rate that NGDP targeters consider necessary to close a persistent output gap and return the economy to full employment. The BEA also released revised data showing that corporate profits in Q1 were weaker than previously thought. >>>Read More

Follow this link to view or download a classroom-ready slideshow with charts of the latest GDP and profits data

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fourteen Minutes a Day: What the Great Recession has Done to the Way we Spend Our Time

Writers of economics textbooks like to remind us that official employment and GDP data are not very good measures of how hard we work or of the goods and services we produce, but what alternatives do we have? One little­-noticed alterative is the annual American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides 24/7 coverage of the activities of the civilian population aged 15 and older. The BLS released the 2011 survey last Friday. Comparing it to the 2007 data provides an interesting perspective on how the Great Recession has affected our lives. >>>Read more

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Behind the Russian Protests: Rising Economic Expectations and a Business Leader Turned Activist

Last week saw another mass protest in Moscow, the first since Vladimir Putin has returned to the presidency and undertaken tough new measures to curb the opposition. As seen on Western TV, the demonstrations appear to be dominated by the colorful flags of monarchists, anarchists, communists, and other extremist groups, but those images are misleading. Participants on the ground report that the flag-wavers are isolated islands in a much broader sea of demonstrators. The rest are citizens from all walks of life, who are motivated more by economic issues than by ideology. In a country where GDP has doubled in a decade, they expect more than the diet of corruption, poor public services, and the authoritarian style served up by the Kremlin. It is the disaffected middle class, including an increasing number of prominent people from the business community, who are the greatest threat to the Russian authorities. >>>Read More

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Latest Data Show US Export Drive Faltering

The latest international trade data for the United States show that the country’s export drive, which has been a bright spot in an otherwise weak recovery, is now faltering. Nominal exports of goods grew a modest 1.6 percent in Q1 2012; a broader measure of exports that includes goods, services, and income receipts grew just 0.7 percent.

These data will come as a particular disappointment to the White House. In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised a doubling of U.S. exports over a five-year period. >>>Read More

Thursday, June 14, 2012

All Major Inflation Measures Fall Below Fed Targets in May

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show sharply lower inflation. The headline number, the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) fell at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.31 percent in May, its fastest rate of decline since 2008, when the economy was still contracting. Even without seasonal adjustment, the CPI-U fell at an annual rate of 1.2 percent in the month. >>>Read more

Follow this link to view or download a brief, classroom-ready, slideshow with detailed charts of the latest inflation data.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Latest Data Show that we are Already on a Downslope Toward the Fiscal Cliff

These days the “fiscal cliff” dominates the discussion of U.S. budget policy. The cliff is the package of tax increases and spending cuts baked into current law that will come into effect at the end of the year if Congress does not act. What is less widely recognized is that the U.S. economy is already on a downslope. The latest GDP and jobs data show that a substantial amount of fiscal austerity is already in effect. A steadily shrinking government sector is slowing growth of jobs and output. To say that the economy may teeter over the cliff at the end of the year understates the problem. If nothing is done, we will hit the cliff at a jog. There is much that we should do before we get there, and time is running out. Read more>>>