Explaining Southern California's economy

Why better third-quarter U.S. economic growth isn't good enough

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A Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at the company's factory in Everett, Wash. Building and selling more of these would improve weak U.S. growth.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its estimate for third-quarter U.S. economic growth on Thursday. The news is good: the total output of the economy, its gross domestic product (GDP), moved up to 2.7 percent from an earlier estimate of 2 percent.

The upward revision isn't terribly shocking (if an economist gives you a shopping list, you can expect a revision by the time you get to the cereal aisle). But it is a nice surprise. It means that the economy grew more briskly in the third quarter – although it doesn't mean that U.S. GDP growth for the year will get its head above 2 percent total. For that, the country will need a pretty solid fourth quarter.

For the record, that's what happened last year. The fourth quarter came in at 4 percent. But the entire year averaged out to only 1.7 percent, because the other three quarters were so weak.

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The DeBord Report on 'America Now with Andy Dean'

Listen in to my weekly Economics Report segment on "America Now with Andy Dean." I've been doing this for a few weeks now, and have appeared in the broadcast a number times before that, and although Andy gives me plenty of grief for my "liberal" positions, I have to hand it to him: He does a three-hour radio show every day and really has his preparation down. Whenever we talk, he knows his numbers — cold. Good examples from Last Friday's show include our discussion of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's investigation of bank overdraft fees and of the Obama/Romney plans to reduces corporate taxes. We also have a little fun an the expense of Meg Whitman and HP's consternating plan to introduce a Windows-Intel tablet.

It's always great to talk to somebody who has a good grasp of data. My colleagues at KPCC always strike me as being great at this, as does Mr. Dean.

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