Economy Watch: Fourth-quarter GDP revised upward to 5.9 percent

By Frank Ahrens
Friday, February 26, 2010; 9:35 AM

Fourth-quarter 2009 gross domestic product was revised upward to 5.9 percent from its initial reading of 5.7 percent, the government said moments ago.

Quarterly GDP is always reported with an initial number, then, after more data comes in, a revision is reported.

Fourth-quarter GDP was helped by spending effects of the government's $787 billion stimulus and also by companies restocking their inventories, which they allowed to diminish during the recession.

The question going forward is: How long can positive GDP be sustained as the effects of the stimulus wear off and unemployment remains near 10 percent throughout the rest of the year? Was fourth-quarter GDP a sustainable number or a one-time Red Bull jolt that will collapse once the government stimulus is removed?

By comparison, fourth-quarter GDP in the United Kingdom was revised upward from 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent, illustrating how stagnant conditions are in Europe.

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