July 29, 2011
(Reuters) – The U.S. economy stumbled badly in the first half of 2011 and came dangerously close to contracting in the January-March period, raising the risk of a recession if a stand-off over the nation’s debt does not end quickly.
The Commerce Department data on Friday also showed the current lull in the economy began earlier than had been thought, with the growth losing steam late last year.
That raised questions on the long held view by both Federal Reserve officials and independent economists that the slowdown in growth this year was mostly due to transitory factors.
“The economy essentially came to a grinding halt in the first half of this year,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester Pennsylvania. “We did get side-swiped by some temporary factors which are fading, but it raises some concerns about the sustainability the recovery.”
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