The most important current news item is not Cohen’s tape, Putin’s visit, or what the president knew when. The news media is focused on those Trump bashing stories that hardly affect you and me in order to foster their liberal narrative. America’s Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, just increased significantly, and that’s a personal win for us. Of course, the media is playing it down. So what does GDP mean to us exactly?
GDP is the globally recognized measure of a nation’s economy. It is is the market value of all currently produced final goods and services within a country in a year by domestic and foreign-supplied resources. In other words, America’s GDP is every dollar spent on everything purchased by this country’s consumers no matter where it was produced. This includes personal spending by American households, investment spending by businesses, government spending, and net export spending (Americans’ spending on foreign products and services minus foreigners’ spending on our products and services). Last year the U.S. GDP was $19.4 trillion. That is one-fourth of the world’s total economy.
A figure that big is almost meaningless until it is compared to that of other nations. The next highest GDP is China’s at just under $12 trillion. Japan is next at $4.9 trillion followed by Germany at $3.7 trillion. The U.S. GDP is higher than all nations of the European Union combined. By the way, Russia’s GDP is $1.5 trillion.
The more important factor is how we are trending in GDP. Generally, a healthy economy is considered to have an annual growth rate of 4%. For the last three years, the U.S. has posted percentage increases of 2.9, 1.6, and 2.2 respectively. The last time America enjoyed a 4% annual increase was in 2000, 18 years ago. Annual increases during the entire Obama administration averaged 1.6%. Although GDP is an annual statistic, it is measured quarterly. The quarterly measurement is “annualized” to estimate what the annual result of the quarterly numbers would be. The increase just announced for the second quarter (April through June) was 4.1% annualized. In other words, if the U.S. economy continues to perform at the present pace, we would have a 4.1% increase in GDP for 2018. The last quarterly increase north of 4% was in 2014. Almost all economists, regardless of their political leanings attribute the good news to President Trump’s policies of tax cuts, job creation, regulation reforms, and trade negotiations.
What does this growing economy mean to you personally? It means production increases that bring lower prices, more jobs creating upward mobility in the work force and less government subsistence, more government revenue keeping taxes down, more entrepreneurial opportunity, better infrastructure creation and maintenance, hopefully lower national debt, and a strong dollar keeping import prices down. A healthy, growing economy adds quality to the life of every American.
Of course, many factors are involved in the movement of a national economy. We should celebrate the 4.1%, but watch closely what happens in the next quarter. The Trump tariffs and potential trade wars could bring downward pressure on the GDP as could the status of our sanctions on Russia, Iran, North Korea, etc. External realities can offset a lot of good internal policies in shaping our economy. But, don’t get too caught up in all the liberal hype about losing our allies and putting our economic supremacy at risk. No other country or international trade organization is going to do much to provoke a country that holds a quarter of the world’s financial resources.
In my opinion, though, America desperately needs to turn off the soap opera of news stories that distract our attention away from much more important things like the economy. Let’s take a deep breath and focus on what’s good about America.
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