The Corner

Economy & Business

2.9 Percent

A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange, January 8, 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

That’s how fast the economy grew in 2018, after accounting for inflation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. By recent standards, that’s quite good. It matches the highest annual growth rate during President Obama’s administration, which happened in 2015. Republicans including President Trump have criticized Obama by noting that he is the first president under whom the economy never had a year of 3 percent growth. At the start of the Trump administration, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin declared that sustained 3 percent growth was “very achievable.” Based on the annual numbers, though, the under-3-percent streak continues.

The White House prefers to use a different measure of growth: The economy was 3.1 percent larger (again, accounting for inflation) in the fourth quarter of 2018 than in the fourth quarter of 2017. By that measure, the economy turned in the best performance since the second quarter of 2015. Yet it’s also true that growth is decelerating. Growth within the fourth quarter was slower than within the third, which in turn was slower than growth within the second.

In short, our most recent measures suggest that we still have a strong economy. The jury is still out on whether Republican policies are raising economic growth rates over the long term.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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