The US economy grew 1.7% last quarter, the Commerce Department announced today, which is a lot better than the 1% analysts expected. "It is what markets and the journalists who write about them like to call a 'huge beat,'" writes Neil Irwin at the Washington Post, before adding, "Woo?" Yes, 1.7% isn't bad, but it came with a downward revision of last quarter's growth to 1.1%. But in a larger sense, these numbers just don't cut it.
"With 7.6% unemployment, the nation could really use a few quarters in a row of 4%, 5%, or 6% growth," writes Irwin. That sounds outlandish now, but it's "exactly what happened in the early 1980s, in the aftermath of a very deep recession." The big difference? Well, consumer spending was higher, and, more significantly, exports and government spending were booming, unlike this quarter when they were negative. Something in this equation has to change, because right now 1.7% growth "isn't even mediocre. It's terrible." For more on the GDP report, click here. (Read more unemployment stories.)