The U.S. economy came perilously close to flat-lining in the first quarter and grew at a meager 1.3 percent annual rate in the April-June period as consumer spending barely rose.
The Commerce Department data on Friday also showed the current lull in the economy began earlier than had been thought, with the growth losing steam late last year.
That could raise questions on the long held view by both Federal Reserve officials and independent economists that the slowdown in growth as the year started was largely the result of transitory factors.
Growth in gross domestic product — a measure of all goods and services produced within U.S. borders – rose at a 1.3 percent annual rate. First-quarter output was sharply revised down to a 0.4 percent pace from a 1.9 percent increase.
Economists had expected the economy to expand at a 1.8 percent rate in the second quarter. Fourth-quarter growth was revised to a 2.3 percent rate from 3.1 percent.
And just imagine how much worse things will get if we default on our debt, and/or suffer a debt downgrade. The mere inability to pay some of the 80 million bills we have to pay each month may well be enough to raise sufficient concerns to drive us to a double-dip recession.