The only chart you need on the GDP report

The GDP report for the fourth quarter of 2012 is, on its face, disappointing. The economy shrunk, at an 0.1 percent annual rate, the first such contraction since the recession's nadir in 2009. But commentators are surprisingly upbeat about it. Spending and investment are still looking good, but sharp contractions in business inventory and federal defense spending sunk the overall number. Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics called it "The best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you’ll ever see."

Judge for yourself. Here's what the report looks like, if you break it down by its components. Click to open a bigger version:

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Neil Irwin · January 30, 2013

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