Economic growth skidded to a near halt in the first quarter, with the worst showing in more than four years raising concerns about how long the country's sluggish spell will last.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product increased by just a 0.6 percent pace in the January-through-March period, much weaker than estimated a month ago. Government statisticians slashed by more than half their first estimate of a 1.3 percent growth rate for the quarter.
The main forces behind the downgrade: the bloated trade deficit and businesses cutting investment in supplies of the goods they hold in inventories.
"We got close, but the economy did not slip under the waves in the first quarter," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.
When right wingers point to the stock market as a valid economic indicator, remind them that layoffs and plant closings will often cause a rise in stock prices because now, everything is based on short-term profits.
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