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Morning briefing: Is the economy on the mend?

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Let's focus on Mark Trumbull’s look at the first-quarter Gross Domestic Product report. The economy’s health is a national obsession at the moment and is crucial to the welfare of millions of people around the world.

As Mark pointed out to me in a conversation yesterday afternoon in the Monitor newsroom, the GDP report, while still indicating a tough economic climate, “gives hope but not certainty” that the free-fall might be slowing.

The big problem is the layer-upon-layer nature of this recession. As one economist explained it to Mark: A recession is bad enough, but to that you have to add the financial crisis and the global nature of the slowdown.

We are long past hoping that this is a V-shaped recession – meaning a plunge but a quick recovery. But that doesn’t mean we are in the territory of an L-shaped recession – one that drops and stays low for a long time.

It may be, Mark says, that this is more of a “swoosh,” in which the economy falls but then begins to pick up, even if it doesn’t blast off.

The reason for hope is consumer spending. As one economist points out, while unemployment has been rising – causing pain to millions of Americans – more than 90 percent of Americans still have jobs. Their spending may be the thing that powers the economy back.

To read more about the economy, check out the variety of articles in our Rebuilding the Economy section.

And are you wondering where all the bailout money has gone? Here's an extensive look at the $11.3 trillion that has been allocated – and where the money is supposed to go.

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