The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently released the advance estimate of second quarter real GDP (two other estimates will follow in as more data become available). BEA estimated that the economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.2 percent.
Before the report, analysts were predicting the economy grew at 2.6 percent with individual forecasts ranging from a low of 2.2 percent to a high of 3.4 percent according to Bloomberg Econoday. The report shocked many with second quarter growth less than half of pre-report expectations.
Positives of the report include consumption which grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent and net exports (exports minus imports) which grew at a rate of 1.4 percent. Negatives include an annualized decline in government purchases of 0.9 percent and investment which slumped 9.7 percent (fixed investment fell 3.2 percent and residential housing fell by 6.1 percent). A census report documented the lowest rate of home ownership in more than 50 years. BEA reported the slowest economic recovery in more than 60 years.
BEA also adjusted output numbers from the first quarter 2013 to the first quarter of 2016. Revised real GDP growth rates are 0.9 percent (-0.5 percent) for the fourth quarter of 2015 and 0.8 percent (-0.3 percent) for the first quarter of 2016. For the last three quarters, economic growth has averaged less than 1 percent. The standard of living, the deficit, and employment will be long-term issues until the growth rate of the economy increases.
The U.S. economy is sick with a fever. Some procrastinators believe that it is critically ill. Others believe it has the economic version of the flu. Optimists may compare it to a cold. A few think the economy is incurable. Most are calling for action. But economic treatments which are proposed vary considerably. Fevers are signals indicating that all is not well.
Health care providers recommend that we have regular physicals. Physicals include the taking of our blood pressure, temperatures, heart rate, blood tests and other procedures indicated by our histories. As stewards of our body, we have a choice. We can wait until physical symptoms, such as a fever, force us to go to a doctor. Or, we can be proactive with regular physicals, proper nutrition and exercise. Preventive measures can keep our lives from being prematurely shortened as well as improve their quality.
Our ministries need periodic check-ups. We can wait until symptoms manifest, or we can take preventive measures. The Lord's message to the seven churches (Rev. 2-3) is the spiritual equivalent of a physical check-up performed by the Great Physician. The seven churches likely believed that all was well. But under examination, the Lord and the Holy Spirit found weaknesses, that left uncorrected, would result in catastrophes. Making the God-directed adjustments would result in eternal blessing.
Our ministries also need periodic examination.
The church of Ephesus had works, patience, a hatred of evil, tests for false apostles, endurance and patience. But, they had abandoned their first love. (Rev. 2:1-7).
The church in Thyatira had works that were greater than at first, love, service and patience. But, they had tolerated a false prophetess, false doctrine and immorality in their midst. (Rev. 2:18-29).
The church in Sardis had a reputation of being alive. But their works were not perfected before God and they tolerated people with soiled garments. (Rev. 3:1-13).
The church in Laodicea were comfortable with an abundance of goods and a belief that they were rich, but they were spiritually poor and lukewarm. (Rev. 3:14-22).
Our ministries need financial, managerial and structural audits. But a spiritual audit is more important. In the book of Revelation, the Lord provided the checkups for the seven churches. Today, we need to seek the Lord for current revelation of our ministry's strengths, weaknesses and actions needed. He provided it 2,000 years ago. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Seeking His counsel today will result in greater fruit in this life and eternal rewards in the future.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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