The Commerce Department today released data on the second-quarter performance of the U.S. economy, and the best word to describe that performance is "pathetic." The economy expanded by 1.5 percent, after growing by a revised 2 percent in the first quarter (up from the previously reported 1.9 percent).
It could have been worse (Double secret pathetic?). But for the first half of 2012, the economy is staging a repeat performance of 2011, when the economy grew at a rate of 1.8 percent for the entire year.
Despite the bad news, the economy is still growing. That will keep the threat of recession at bay, even if many Americans, especially those among the ranks of the unemployed, feel like the Great Recession never went away. The U.S. is on the road to have a $16-trillion economy by 2012-13, by far the world's largest.
There was one stunning piece of information in the numbers that the Bureau of Economic Analysis put out: growth for the fourth quarter of 2011 was revised up, to 4.1 percent. If the economy could have maintained that pace into the first six months of 2012, we'd be living in a completely different world right now.