State of Business: The Plateau

Never in the postwar era has the U.S. economy held so steady for so long. Though official fourth-quarter figures are still to come, the best estimate last week was that gross national product in the quarter was some $504 billion at an annual rate, almost precisely the same level as the third quarter and close to the second quarter of 1960.

The high plateau was achieved despite November's drop in industrial production to 105 on the Federal Reserve Index (1957 = 100), lowest monthly rate since the steel strike a year ago. Moreover, business inventories in the fourth quarter were estimated...

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