HOW FAST SHOULD WE GROW?

GROWTH SOARS, UNEMPLOYMENT PLUNGES. GREAT! BUT WILL INFLATION EAT UP THE GAINS? THE ODDS SEEM AGAINST IT, BUT TRY TELLING WALL STREET

To consumers, workers and politicians--especially in an election year--growth is a magic word. It means more--more goods, more jobs, more money. Among economists, though, the word can start a fight. Past a certain point, many insist, growth means more price increases, and then more still, until inflation snatches away all the goodies.

Ah, but past what point? Is any rise of greater than 2% to 2.5% in national output dangerous, as the conventional wisdom has long held? Or has inflation been so tamed that output can safely grow at a rate of 3% to 3.5%, as more and more economists and...

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