GDP contracts in the fourth quarter

Don’t look now, but the economic recovery that we’ve been constantly told is upon us may unsurprisingly be fading away. The Commerce Department released less-than-stellar numbers this earlier today showing that gross domestic product (GDP) contracted in the last quarter of 2012:

The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus.

The economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. That’s a sharp slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter.

Oh, and by the way, you’re taxes have gone up. That’s right, Americans will have less money to spend as the affects of the tax increases that hit at the beginning of the year are felt. When money is removed from the economy, it will translate into slower economic growth or even, given that the economy contracted, a recession.

Rick Santelli, the CNBC contributor whose rant on the floor inspired the Tea Party movement in 2009, summed up the news best:

“Hey Joe,” Santelli said, “when you act like Europe, you get growth rates like Europe, and our discussions with economists sounds like we’re in Europe. They have the same discussions constantly.”

“They’re always doing the right thing,” he continued. “They’re always thinking they know better. And this is the kind of growth. We have become Europe. We are now Europe.”

It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction to this news is in Congress and at the Federal Reserve. Congress has already delayed the sequester — $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, which was part of the “fiscal cliff” deal. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear calls for another delay because of the risk of a recession. The Federal Reserve may also try to do more as it seems that perpetual quantitative easing hasn’t helped much, if any at all.

 
 


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