The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released new numbers for GDP growth in the second quarter of 2012. The economy increased at an annual rate of 1.7% in the second quarter, which is up from initial estimates of 1.5%. That's the good news. The bad news is that GDP growth has slipped from a 2% rate in the first quarter. In 2011, the second quarter saw a 2.4% growth rate.
According to the BEA, the last time the economy saw two back-to-back quarters with annualized growth rates of 2% or less was in 2009. Last year, real GDP growth was estimated at 1.8%. It's very possible that this year could fall below that number. We could easily be witnessing the economy entering another slowdown.
And this slowdown would be from a mediocre peak. Annual GDP growth averaged 3.5% between 1947 and 2000. It last reached 3.5% in 2004. The lowest annual GDP growth rate under Clinton was 2.5% (in 1995); not one year of the Obama administration has equaled or exceeded that rate.
As the Republicans convene in Tampa, the lingering economic stagnation of the past decade provides a backdrop for their promises of restoration and renewal.
(On the plus side, exports had a stronger-than-expected quarter, growing at a much faster rate than imports.)