Economic growth needs to be about more than just talk and projections

Don’t look now, but the terms “cautious optimism” and signs of improvement” remain at or near the top of the list, when people are asked to describe what is going on in terms of momentum of the economic kind.

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Six months, the second half of the year, later this quarter, etc. What do each of these time references allude to, you ask? Simply put, they are among the many answers I have received over the last three-plus years, when asking people when the economy may improve.

Don’t look now, but the terms “cautious optimism” and signs of improvement” remain at or near the top of the list, when people are asked to describe what is going on in terms of momentum of the economic kind.

Let me be clear, I am not being a negative guy here. After all, some recent numbers we have seen, including fourth quarter GDP coming in at 2.8 percent and increased durable good orders for December up 3 percent, are encouraging. There is no question about that.

What’s more, the American Trucking Associations reported last week that December volumes were strong, with decent annual and sequential gains. Another positive is that U.S. export growth appears to have had a strong 2011 (December numbers are not in just yet).

Now on the “downer” side is still-too-high employment, flattish retail sales, and recent news from the Federal Reserve that it plans to keep short-terms interest rates close to zero through most of 2014, six years after this practice launched as part of an effort to help foster economic growth.

So, as you can tell, there clearly is a long way to go before anyone can truly declare we are back as an economy.

Are we making progress? Yes, make no mistake, we are. But we really need to do much more, whether it be to truly home in on infrastructure development or take an actionable approach towards a real energy policy that could both help the economy and add badly-needed jobs to the U.S.

I realize efforts surrounding both of these things have stalled out in Congress at one point or another, but they are both very much part of the conversation and really need to remain as such to help turn things around, whether it is in six months, the end of next year, in two years or whenever.

Let’s just hope the good outweighs the bad when it comes to economic growth and see what happens from there.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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