A Case of the Downturn Jitters

Slow growth complicates the work of Congress on tax reform and deficits

Stepping somberly to the podium in a blue-carpeted Washington briefing room last week, Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige confirmed what many businessmen already knew through painful experience. The pace of U.S. economic growth, Baldrige revealed, took a sharp downturn in the second quarter, as American manufacturers continued to be hurt by a high level of imports. After expanding at a 3.8% annual rate from January to March, the gross national product increased at only a 1.1% pace between April and June, the slowest climb since the recession year of 1982.

Baldrige emphasized that the latest growth figures were only a preliminary estimate...

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