Reports of economy’s death were greatly exaggerated

I recall hearing a guest on talk radio (I forget which show) saying that a recession is defined by very specific economic indicators — and that, despite the loose use of the word “recession” by uninformed media types, those economic indicators were not present. Perhaps that’s not surprising, given that the economy is growing, something even the AP has to concede, although it paints that fact in the grimmest of terms:

The bruised economy limped through the first quarter, growing at just a 0.6 percent pace as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down.

The country’s economic growth during January through March was the same as in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The statistic did not meet what economists consider the definition of a recession, which is a contraction of the economy. This means that although the economy is stuck in a rut, it is still managing to grow, even if slightly.

Given that the economy is still moving forward, those $600 checks the President is sending home may indeed be the difference between stalling and sliding backwards, on the one hand, and continuing that forward growth, on the other hand — just as was the case in 2001.