GDP Growth Returns

Growth is back: “Gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the three months ending in September, a significant spike from a relatively shrunken base. The economy had contracted at annual rates of 0.7 percent and 6.4 percent in the first and second quarters of this year, respectively.”

3.5 percent is solid growth. But given the prolonged period of increasing unemployment, the growth of the population during that period, the ongoing growth of the population, and increases in productivity, you’d have to sustain growth at that level for quite a few quarters before the labor market returns to good health. Another way of looking at it is that given the high unemployment rate and the recent contraction in output we should be able to sustain a period of abnormally high “catch-up” growth without sparking any inflation at all.

The key question going forward is will policymakers continue with growth policies until unemployment falls and wages are growing, or will they give in to demands from coupon-clippers and goldbugs to put the breaks on?