The Commerce Department release of revised data showing that GDP grew by more than originally reported in the second quarter was generally reported as very positive news. This is striking since the growth rate was only 2.5 percent. (One fifth of this growth was due to more rapid inventory accumulation.)

Most economists estimate the economy's trend growth rate as 2.2 percent to 2.4 percent. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the economy is currently operating at almost 6 percentage points below its potential. This means that at the second quarter growth rate it will take between 20 and 60 years to get back to potential GDP.