Which is better for a country’s well-being: $10 million spent constructing a jail, or $10 million spent producing a line of smartphones? How about clear- cutting rain forests to produce $10 million in lumber? Or a storm that requires $10 million in repairs?
Economics isn’t rocket science, but the U.S. economy is a little like a rocket. If it has enough thrust, it can escape the tug of economic gravity. Not enough, and it just might go into a tailspin. Economists at the Federal Reserve and elsewhere are studying whether today’s slow growth is a precursor to an outright recession -- and if so, why.
St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard, who was the first Fed policy maker to urge the round of bond purchases that started last year, said the central bank isn’t signaling a third stimulus program with its commitment to keep rates near zero through mid-2013.