Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 28th 2015 Contents A18
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, March 28, 2015
WASHINGTON---The US economy s
tepid performance last quarter---a 2.2
per cent annual growth rate, the gov-
ernment said yesterday---was typical
of the economic rebound that began
in the summer of 2009.
Yet the generally sluggish pace of
the US recovery masks a sign of
strength: This growth spurt has proved
to be one of the most durable since
World War II. And it seems at no risk
of ending anytime soon.
The economic recovery will mark
its sixth anniversary in June, meaning
it will have already lasted 14 months
longer than the average expansion
since World War II.
"This recovery has been disappoint-
ing in terms of growth so far but if
you are looking for a silver lining, it
is that the slow rate of growth has
allowed the economy to avoid the
kinds of excesses that can lead to over-
building, over-lending or other prob-
lems," said Mark Zandi, chief econ-
omist at Moody s Analytics.
"We are a long way from that."
The longest recovery on record was
the ten-year growth period that lasted
from March 1991 to March 2001. But
many economists believe this expan-
sion could surpass that.
Zandi said it may only be at the
half-way point, meaning it could last
another six years.
In the final look at fourth quarter
GDP, the government said consumer
spending was more robust than pre-
viously estimated, though business
restocking was weaker.
Consumer spending, which
accounts for 70 per cent of economic
activity, grew at a 4.4 per cent rate
in the fourth quarter---the strongest
performance in eight years and even
better than the 4.2 per cent estimated
a month ago.
Export growth also posted an
improvement, although those gains
were offset by slower growth in busi-
ness inventories, leaving total GDP
The report also showed that infla-
tion was well under control. A price
measure tied to GDP rose just 0.1 per
cent in the fourth quarter.
Excluding food and energy, prices
rose a modest 1.1 per cent. Analysts
said the gain reinforced Federal
Reserve s view that inflation was con-
tinuing to fall below its target of 2 per
"The economy was on solid footing
at the end of the year, while inflation
and inflation expectations continue
to ratchet lower than expected," said
Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP
Economic growth for all of 2014
also unchanged at 2.4 per cent, only
a tiny improvement from the 2.2 per
cent growth seen in 2013. For the past
five years, growth has averaged a sub-
par 2.2 per cent.
In 2014, the economy actually
shrank at an annual rate of 2.1 per
cent in the first quarter as the country
was hit by a series of severe winter
Growth rebounded to a 4.6 per cent
rate in the spring and a 5 per cent rate
in the third quarter in the strongest
performance in 11 years.
But growth slowed in the fourth
quarter, and the deceleration is expect-
ed to extend into the January-March
period, reflecting the impact of winter
storms and shipping disruptions from
a West Coast port dispute.
Economists, however, believe strong
gains in consumer spending will propel
growth to a rate of at least 3 per cent
in 2015, which would be the best per-
formance in a decade. (AP)
SAO PAULO---Brazil s Federal Police
agency said yesterday it has begun
legal proceedings against companies
allegedly involved in a fraud scheme
that has cost the public coffers almost
US$2 billion in unpaid fines and taxes.
It came a day after police said they
had uncovered "criminal organisations"
suspected of causing a shortfall of at
least 6 billion reais (US$1.9 billion) in
Police said in a statement that the
shortfall could be as high as 19 billion
reais (US$6 billion).
A federal police press officer said
yesterday that more than 50 companies
in the industrial, financial and agricul-
tural sectors are being investigated for
allegedly bribing officials at the Finance
Ministry s tax appeals court to reduce
or annul fines on unpaid taxes. He
spoke on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorised to speak
on the matter.
He would not name any of the com-
panies being investigated.
The federal police statement said the
investigation that began in 2013 found
that officials of the tax appeals court
leaked information to consulting and
law firms in Brasilia, Sao Paulo and
other cities to find companies interested
in having their tax-court proceedings
Two new Samsung phones, Galaxy S6, top left, and Galaxy S6 Edge, to right, are on display with choice
of colour selections at a special media preview in New York. Orders for Samsung's Galaxy S6 phones
started yesterday, with delivery around April 10. AP PHOTO
Brazil police report
massive tax fraud scheme
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