The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its first estimate for gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2018. Inflation adjusted (real) GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.1 percent compared to 2.2 percent the previous quarter and expectations of 4.2 percent. Not adjusted for inflation, the economy's output was $20.4 trillion, which was an increase of $361.5 billion for the quarter, and an annualized increase of 7.4 percent.
Of the 4.1 percent yearly rate of increase, 2.69 percent came from increased consumer spending, - 0.06 percent from lower investment (due to a drop in housing and inventories), 1.06 percent from net exports (buyers likely front loaded purchases because of tariffs), and 0.37 percent came from increased government purchases. Inventories will eventually increase either in later estimates for this quarter or in the next quarter. Net exports will also change but the nature and magnitude of the change will be dependent on relative currency values and trade negotiations.
In other news, President Trump announced a preliminary deal with the European Union to avoid a trade war (Business Insider). Specifically, Europe will import more U. S. soybeans and natural gas and will adjust regulations to encourage medical devices to be more easily traded. Both sides have agreed to reduce industrial tariffs.
Before his election, President Trump said that his policies would result in 4 percent growth and that tariffs could be used as a tool to obtain more equitable trade arrangements. He was roundly criticized for both statements. Many pundits and economists indicated that 4 percent growth was no longer feasible. Others indicated a unilateral increase in tariffs would result in a recession or worst. This week's developments are encouraging, but preliminary. Time will tell whether President Trump or his critics are correct.
Many of President Trump's other words have turned into reality. He said he would move the U. S. Embassy to Jerusalem, that NATO would increase its financial contributions, that he would get out or renegotiate many trade agreements which he considered unfair. Today's reality is reflecting his earlier words.
As followers of the Lord Jesus, our words are particularly important. The Old and New Testaments are filled with Scriptures that attest to the importance of our words. The Old Testament tells us that life and death are in the power of our tongue and that we will reap the fruit of it. The New Testament tells us that our tongue can set on fire the course of our life.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Prov. 18:21).
"The tongue is a fire, a world of evil. The tongue is among the parts of the body, defiling the whole body, and setting the course of nature on fire" (James 3:6a).
The words that come out of our mouth can steer us toward our God-given destiny. Like the bit in a horse's mouth or the rudder on a ship, our words can safely steer us to fulfill our purpose. Conversely, the wrong words can do tremendous damage to individuals and the kingdom. With incorrect words, people can become discouraged and even backslide, churches can split or even fail, ministers can become discouraged or even leave the ministry. The Scriptures compare the tongue to a small flame that sets a forest ablaze.
" See how we put bits in the mouths of horses that they may obey us, and we control their whole bodies. And observe ships. Though they are so great and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are directed with a very small rudder wherever the captain pleases" (James 3:3-4).
"O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34).
"See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" (James 3:5b).
One of the clearest examples in Scripture of the effects of words is found in Numbers 13 and 14. Israel was on the verge on entering the promised land. The Lord told Moses to send out 12 spies to gain information on the land promised. All spies agreed that the land flowed with milk and honey—a single cluster of grapes had to be carried on a pole between two men. All testified that the land had giants, the cities were large and heavily fortified, and the people were strong.
However, 10 of the spies declared that they were not able to take the land; the people there were just too strong. In contrast, Caleb and Joshua gave a good report. These two faithful men argued that they should go and overtake it, because they would surely be successful. Through their words, the unfaithful 10 men moved the entire congregation into fear and rebellion, which caused their banishment to the wilderness for 40 years and prohibited them from entering the promised land. Caleb and Joshua received the promise that they would eventually enter and possess it.
Note that all spies saw and acknowledged the same facts. But the unfaithful group declared they were not able to be successful. They were correct; it would take God. They didn't believe in God's faithfulness, while Caleb and Joshua did. We can miss our individual promised lands with our words.
Upon reading these Scriptures, some make the mistake of deciding that we need to exhibit more discipline and control over our words. While discipline is important, it is not sufficient. If we have a chronic problem with our words, we need to address the root. The root of the problem is the heart. Only through the blood of Jesus and by His grace are we able to tame our hearts.
"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matt. 12:34b-35).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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