The U.S. economy finished 2022 in solid shape even as questions persist over whether growth will turn negative in the year ahead.
Fourth-quarter gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced for the October-to-December period, rose at a 2.9% annualized pace, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected a reading of 2.8%.
The growth rate was slightly slower than the 3.2% pace in the third quarter.
Stocks turned mixed following the report while Treasury yields were mostly higher.
Consumer spending, which accounts for about 68% of GDP, increased 2.1% for the period, down slightly from 2.3% in the previous period but still positive.
Inflation readings moved considerably lower to end the year after hitting 41-year highs in the summer. The personal consumption expenditures price index increased 3.2%, in line with expectations but down sharply from 4.8% in the third quarter. Excluding food and energy, the chain-weighted index rose 3.9%, down from 4.7%.
While the inflation numbers indicated price increases are receding, they remain well above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.
Along with the boost from consumers, increases in private inventory investment, government spending and nonresidential fixed investment helped lift the GDP number.
A 26.7% plunge in residential fixed investment, reflecting a sharp slide in housing, served as a drag on the growth number, as did a 1.3% decline in exports. The housing drop subtracted about 1.3 percentage points from the headline GDP number.
Federal government spending rose 6.2%, due largely to an 11.2% surge on nondefense outlays, while state and local expenditures were up 2.3%. Government spending in total added 0.64 percentage points to GDP.
Inventory increases also played a significant role, adding nearly 1.5 percentage points.
“The mix of growth was discouraging, and the monthly data suggest the economy lost momentum as the fourth quarter went on,” wrote Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics. “We still expect the lagged impact of the surge in interest rates to push the economy into a mild recession in the first half of this year.”
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Social media is rooted in the belief that open debate and the free flow of ideas are important values, especially at a time when they are under threat in many places around the world. As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms — especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States. The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box. But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a clear risk of real world harm — a deliberately high bar for Meta to intervene in public discourse — we act.
Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances. We indefinitely suspended then-US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. We then referred that decision to the Oversight Board — an expert body established to be an independent check and balance on our decision-making. The Board upheld the decision but criticized the open-ended nature of the suspension and the lack of clear criteria for when and whether suspended accounts will be restored, directing us to review the matter to determine a more proportionate response.
In response to the Board, we imposed a time-bound suspension of two years from the date of the original suspension on January 7, 2021 — an unprecedented length of time for such a suspension. We also clarified the circumstances in which accounts of public figures could be restricted during times of civil unrest and ongoing violence, and introduced a new Crisis Policy Protocol to guide our assessment of on and off-platform risks of imminent harm so we can respond with specific policy and product actions. In our response to the Oversight Board, we also said that before making any decision on whether or not to lift Mr. Trump’s suspension, we would assess whether the risk to public safety has receded.
The suspension was an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances. The normal state of affairs is that the public should be able to hear from a former President of the United States, and a declared candidate for that office again, on our platforms. Now that the time period of the suspension has elapsed, the question is not whether we choose to reinstate Mr. Trump’s accounts, but whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances that extending the suspension beyond the original two-year period is justified.
To assess whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded, we have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the US 2022 midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment. Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out. As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.
Like any other Facebook or Instagram user, Mr. Trump is subject to our Community Standards. In light of his violations, he now also faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses — penalties which will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol. In the event that Mr. Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation.
I give it until St. Patrick's Day before Trump gets banned again for one of his tirades. Only this time when he's punished, the House GOP will be ready to go with subpoenas and hearings, and plenty of fundraising off the circus mess.
The notion that the Trump threat has "subsided" is laughable, but I guess we're going to have to watch him call for another insurrection or worse until someone decides to put him in jail.