Putting Better Growth in Context

Friday, 10 January 2014 05:35

The NYT had a piece touting the improvement in the state of the economy. It notes that many economists now expect the economy to grow at close to a 3.0 percent annual rate in 2014. While this is considerably better than the growth rate over the prior four years, it is not an especially strong growth rate for a badly depressed economy.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the economy is still operating at a level of output that is roughly 6.0 percent below its potential. With potential GDP growing at a 2.2-2.4 percent annual rate, a 3.0 percent growth rate means that we are making up this gap at the rate of 0.6-0.8 percentage points a year. At this pace it would between 7.5-10.0 years to get back to potential GDP. 

The piece also begins by noting that exports hit a new record high in the most recent data. Actually exports generally grow, except in a severe world slump like the 2008 crash. For this reason exports almost always hit a new record high every month.