Surely you've heard by now but we'll pat our aching, aging backs one more time because we're just so elated — America is NOT IN A RECESSION! The American Gross Domestic Product actually grew last quarter, which was a huge disappointment to the whining Marxist doomsayers so intent on making Americans forget they are living in the greatest civilization that ever danced with the stars. Well, we've seen the data, Americans. We've scanned the fine print and scoured the blogosphere so you wouldn't have to, and we are here to tell you: it's true. The American economy grew last quarter, and we know exactly why. So don't listen to the haters! In lieu of the usual evening news roundup, Jezebel is here to bring you the seven reasons this great nation is still on the upswing.
Because America is not part of Europe. You know what would happen if we joined the European Union? Let's "mark to market" our economic figures to Euros for a second. (This is not a particularly meaningful exercise, but when the Gross Domestic Product is passing for the ultimate barometer of economic health I feel entitled to dabble in the absurd.) In the same amount of time that our economy cracked the $14 trillion mark, it would have shrunk 10% to 9 trillion Euros. In other words, no one would be lining up to buy cheap American exports. Of course, not that that much stuff is made in America anymore, which is why our 13% increase in exports of goods only contributed 0.2% in the way of GDP growth. But 0.2% can make all the difference!
Because The Rest Of The World Is Starving Thanks to land and pork barrel politics, agriculture remains a thriving (if small) sector of the American economy, and thanks to those same pork barrel politics we decided to drive food prices higher than oil prices would have already rendered them by paying people to use perfectly good corn to run cars or somesuch. Well, we make corn in America! And soybeans, and lots of other things that will make you fat if you aren't living on $3 a day in Nairobi.
Because The Rest Of The World Is Still Coming Here (And Fewer Than Ever Are Sending Their Money Home) America's growing population helps our GDP numbers sound good even when everything is actually getting harder for the average person! Between 2003 and 2007, for instance, our per-capita GDP grew less than 1.9% a year on average; Japan's per-capita GDP grew 2.1%! But thanks to our swelling immigrant class (and possibly, the celebrity baby boom) we have a growing populace that pumps that number up to nearly 3% annualized growth when we pool our funds together!
Because Everyone Is Sick, And Getting Sicker Health care a very important sector of the American economy — in fact, it's the only sector that's created any jobs since the nineties — and the costs — hey, every cost has a "benefit," hah! — just keep rising! That means lots of profits for all the companies working hard to remind us how bad heartburn can make you feel. And all the accountants and managers and lawyers responsible for figuring out how hospitals can add treatments and procedures to routine hospital stays so the insurance companies actually pay them; they are drivers of economic activity too! In this most recent quarter, medical care might have been the single brightest spot of a very unhappy chart: costs rose 12.1% over the quarter.
Because banks control all the money. The financial sector might seem like it's a mess right now, but they didn't get to represent more than a fifth of the whole GDP by being unclever. After getting the government to set up a special body giving them "immunity" from failure in the wake of that touching Jimmy Stewart movie, bankers quickly set about figuring out how to control all the money in the universe and take a big a cut possible each year in fear someone would figure out what they were up to and shut the whole thing down. Over time, of course, they realized that they controlled too much money for the government to ever shut any of it down, so at that point they just overpaid themselves because that's what they did last year, and because that's what everyone else was doing, and because if they didn't do it they were the greater fool. By 2005 the average finance worker earned 50% more than the comparable worker in any other field — and a lot of them made a lot more than that. But it's hard to blame them — absurdly profitable ideas like $3 ATM fees and selling repurposed mortgages to old people literally on a "fixed income" are all in a day's work for these guys.
Because "information processing equipment and software" sales increased 10.3%. And they haven't even released the new iPhone!
Because They Hate Us. These are serious times, Americans! We have a beautiful country to defend, and defense spending was perhaps the brightest spot on the latest GDP report of all. The Pentagon spent nearly $700 billion defending our freedoms last year, a 7.5% increase from last. And we haven't even started bombing Iran!
BEA Press Release: Gross Domestic Product [Bureau of Economic Analysis]
Economists React: Recession "Still Likely" [WSJ]
Food Firms Profit As Demand Soars [WSJ]
Grossly Distorted Picture [Economist]
FDIC Seeks Hires, Braces For Trouble [WSJ]
Gross Domestic Product By Industry, Winners & Losers [Visualizing Economics]
What's Really Propping Up The Economy [BusinessWeek]
One Guy Who's Seen It All Doesn't Like What He Sees [WSJ]