Catherine Rampbell reports on the continuing saga of our so-so economy:
National output grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.2 percent in the quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday, after growth of 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and 2.2 percent in the third quarter.
The steady growth has quelled fears that the downturn is not quite over.
“It’s been a case of, when will they stop worrying and learn to love the boom?” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at ITG, who said that many economists have been too hesitant to acknowledge the steady recovery because the job market is still weak.
Look, a 3.2 percent rate would be strong performance for an economy operating in a normal context. It’s consistent with recovery. Everyone who said the Obama/Bernanke/Geithner anti-crisis measures were going to sink the global economy was wrong. But given the quantity of idle resources and idle people in the United States, it should be possible for us to put together several 5+ percent quarters in a row. America is more productive than ever, employment costs are restrained, the price * output level remains way below trend, and there’s no particular reason to be satisfied with these results. There’s a ton of focus right now on how to prevent the next economic crisis, but not nearly enough on how to pull out of the current one faster.