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America’s Weak Recovery

Why Congress and the Fed Can't Get the Economy Back on Track

Courtesy Reuters

The majority of Americans can be forgiven for believing -- as they do -- that the U.S. economy is still in a recession when it’s not. The economy is certainly growing, which is the definition of not being in a recession. But growth has been painfully slow this year, running at just about a two percent annual rate. No one would call that good performance. It is, in fact, little better than half the growth rate that many forecasters expected when the year began. Reflecting this weakness, forecasts for both 2011 and 2012 are being revised downward.

Think of the U.S. economy as an airplane flying on three engines. The main growth engine is always the private sector, with monetary and fiscal policy, the two smaller engines, giving the aircraft a boost now and then. In normal times -- which these are not -- the private sector provides more

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