So much for the notion that last October's historic stock market crash was bound to send the whole economy into a tailspin.
Any such lingering fears should have been finally put to rest this week by the latest figures on the impressive performance of the economy, which grew at a solid 2.3 precent annual pace during the first quarter. Consumer spending rose moderately. Spending by business surged ahead. Prices advanced at an annual rate of only 2.4 precent.What an encouraging indication of the economy's inherent strength and recuperative powers.
Even so, the economy is still needlessly vulnerable because of the continuing deficits in the federal budget and the U.S. balance of trade. The trade deficit barely improved in the first quarter; with consumers and businesses still spending heavily, there is a distinct possibility this deficit will worsen.
Moreover, if financial markets become impatient at the pace of reducing the budget deficit, they could force the dollar lower and interest rates higher. Under such circumstances, another big drop in the stock market or some other shock to the financial system still might trigger a recession.
But the current figures on the economy are too good to warrant pessimism. Eventually, the national economy being as subject to cycles as it is is bound to cool off.
Meanwhile, barring the unexpected, Americans can remain confident about the immediate future. After all, boards of directors don't invest heavily in new equipment unless they are optimistic. Likewise, foreign firms don't keep setting up new factories in the U.S. unless they're sure the moves will pay off.