If President Donald Trump is to rescue the U.S. from its worst growth rate in five years, he's going to need help from the economy's biggest driver — the consumer.
Friday's gross domestic product release produced a number that disappointed Wall Street — just 1.9 percent growth to end the year, falling short of even the meager estimates of 2.2 percent from economists surveyed by Reuters. That capped off an eight-year run under former President Barack Obama where GDP gains averaged just shy of 1.5 percent a year.
But there was good news inside the bad news.
The slip in came in large part because of a slide in exports, pushed both by a stronger dollar and the unwinding of an unsustainable burst in soybean exports that helped push the third quarter to a 3.5 percent growth rate. Exports surged 10 percent for the third quarter and contracted 4.3 percent in the final three months of the year.
Taken together, second-half growth came in at close to 2.5 percent, which in itself is well above trend for a recovery that began in mid-2009. But the impetus is even more important — a strengthened consumer who looks willing to start spending money again.