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Recession Shows Signs of Easing Grip on U.S. Economy

New economic figures hinted that the U.S. recession could be slowing down. Jeffrey Brown gets analysis from a banker and a journalist.

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    There was news today that raised hopes the recession could be ending. The Commerce Department reported economic activity was down less than expected in the second quarter.

    The gross domestic product slipped 1 percent from April through June. It had fallen more than 6 percent in the first three months of the year.

    The report also made clear the economy was weaker in 2008 than first reported.

    At the White House, President Obama said again his stimulus policies have helped, but he said a recovery has not yet begun.


    You need to have economic growth before you have job growth. And today's GDP is an important sign that the economy is headed in the right direction and that business investment, which had been plummeting in the last several months, is showing signs of stabilizing.

    This means that eventually businesses will start growing and will start hiring again. And that's when it will truly feel like a recovery to the American people.


    Today's report also showed consumers pulled back on spending in the second quarter. That finding left Wall Street searching for a direction. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 17 points to close at 9,171, but the Nasdaq fell more than 5 points to close at 1,978. For the month, the Dow gained more than 8.5 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 8 percent.

    Now, Jeffrey Brown continues our lead story coverage of the economy.


    And for that, I'm joined by Stuart Hoffman, chief economist and senior vice president at PNC Financial Services, and Daniel Gross, financial columnist for Slate and senior editor at Newsweek. He wrote the magazine's latest cover story on the state of the economy.

    Stuart Hoffman, what is the GDP report telling us about economic activity now? Start with the good news.