The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.6 in the third quarter of 2013, according to new data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That's a rise from the second quarter, when the real gross domestic product tallied a 2.5 percent gain.
The figures are the strongest showing for the U.S. GDP since the first quarter of 2012, when growth was reported at 3.7 percent.
Today's release is the "second" estimate for the third quarter, following up on data released in November. The "advance" estimate for the third quarter had put the GDP's increase at 2.8 percent. The BEA attributes the difference to a rise in private inventory investment that was larger than had been estimated.
Other factors related to the rise were a rise in imports that was smaller in the third quarter than in the second, and an increase in spending by state and local governments.
But, the Commerce Department agency notes, "Offsetting these movements, exports, consumer spending, and business investment each grew at a slower rate in the third quarter than in the second quarter."
In other economic news, the number of people filing first-time claims filed for unemployment insurance fell below 300,000 last week, to 298,000, the Employment and Training Administration said Thursday.
The agency says that the seasonally adjusted data reflects "a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 321,000."
As was the case with cheery U.S. economic news about hiring and international trade that emerged earlier this week, the stock market seems to be set for another dismal day, as the increases drive investors to fear that the Federal Reserve might consider tapering its monthly stimulus spending that was meant to prop up the economy.
"The markets are worried about the fact that strong numbers from the States could perhaps spark tapering in December," Julian Chillingworth, chief investment officer at Rathbone Brothers Plc in London, tells Bloomberg.
Good morning, here are our early stories:
And here are more early headlines:
Winter Storm Brings Ice, Heavy Snow To Plains. (Weather.com)
Storm's Gale Force Winds Hitting Northern Europe. (AccuWeather)
Biden Urges China To Reconsider New Air Defense Zone. (ABC)
Civilians Flee As Violence Continues In Central African Republic. (Businessweek)
Thailand Protests Suspended As King's Birthday Celebrated. (The Associated Press)
Ukrainian Official Urges Talks With Protesters, Possible Early Elections. (The New York Times)
NBA Game Called Off In Mexico City After Smoke Fills Arena. (NBA.com)
Air Force Criticized For Adding Fighter Jets To Online Santa Tracker. (Boston Globe)
An Arizona employee safety agency has ordered $559,000 in fines against the state's forestry division for its failures in handling the Yarnell Hill wildfire, which killed 19 elite firefighters from Prescott.
"The agency concluded that State Forestry placed a higher priority on protection of homes and property than firefighter safety," reports the Prescott Daily Courier.
The Arizona Industrial Commission imposed multiple fines on the forestry unit, with the largest coming for "willful serious" violations that left firefighters in dangerous positions after efforts to contain the fire proved ineffective.
Including the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew who perished on June 30, a total of 81 firefighters were "unnecessarily and unreasonably" placed in perilous conditions, the commission found, leaving them vulnerable to smoke inhalation, burns, and death.
The forestry agency failed to remove firefighters even after they learned that "suppression of extremely active chaparral fuels was ineffective and that wind would push active fire towards non-defensible structures," the report says.
Other violations centered on uneven staffing, as a supervisor, a safety officer, and a planning chief were found to have been either late or absent on the day the firefighters died, according to the report.
As The Daily Courier notes, Arizona Forestry officials "failed to remove downwind firefighters when incident commanders evacuated their own post at 3:30 p.m. on June 30."
The Industrial Commission's conclusions clash with the findings of an extensive report by the Arizona State Forestry Division, which said in September that its investigation "found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol."
The main problems identified in the forestry agency's report centered on breakdowns in communications during the fire.
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Amazon Publishing has launched a new imprint, StoryFront, that aims to publish "high-quality short fiction across genres." Amazon has already been experimenting with short fiction through Kindle Singles and Day One, a weekly literary magazine that launched in October. In a statement, Adult Trade and Children's Group publisher Daphne Durham says, "Based on the continued success of short fiction on Kindle as well as the enthusiastic response to Day One — we received thousands of subscriptions in the first week — we know readers are hungry for short stories and excited about exploring new genres."
- Since 2006, the National Library of Norway has been in the process of digitizing every book published in Norwegian, a project the library hopes to finish in the next 20 to 30 years. Perhaps even more remarkably, as The Atlantic's Alexis C. Madrigal explains, "if you happen to be in Norway, as measured by your IP address, you will be able to access all 20th-century works, even those still under copyright. Non-copyrighted works from all time periods will be available for download." Asking whether the U.S. can "afford to be left behind," Madrigal notes that "our libraries do what they can, but the idea of digitizing literally every book published in this country is a goal that we should shoot for and fund."
- The queer theorist and New York University professor José Esteban Muñoz has died at age 46, according to his publisher. The University of Minnesota Press writes in a statement: "His first book, Disdentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, was innovative and groundbreaking, and has proven to be foundational to the critical study on the nexus of race, gender, and sexuality." Muñoz's NYU colleague Barbara Browning tells Hyperallergic, "José did so many beautiful things, he was so good at seeing beauty. He loved his work and his students more than anyone I've ever known. Today we begin the task of making work and nurturing work that will honor him for the rest of our lives."
- The novelist and dachshund enthusiast Gary Shteyngart has some imaginative strategies for making reading 19th century British literature more interesting. He writes in The Millions, "First, I would insert some hot Russian emotion into the chilly scenes by hand. So if a character is carrying on some abstruse conversation about standing for parliament or whatever, I would interrupt it in my mind with: 'And then Casaubon Casaubonovich threw himself around her neck and cried violently.' Problem solved. Then I decided to Yiddishize some of the writing to make it more haimish. Take for example the first line of David Copperstein: 'Whether I shall turn out to be the mensch of my own life, or whether that station will be held by some other putz, this spiel must show.' Or: 'Miss Brooke had the kind of punim which seems to be thrown into relief by her shmatas.' Once you mentally add a dollop of sour cream and a tablespoon of schmaltz to 19th Century British literature, you will find it tastes as good as anything in the Western canon."
- National Book Award winner James McBride talks about the parallels between music and writing: "There's an improvisational quality to some of my writing. If I know a dramatic point is supposed to happen, I'll try to figure out a slick way to get there. My latest novel has a kind of improvisatory approach to telling an old story. In jazz, lots of people play the same songs. But it's the way you play it is what distinguishes you from the next man or woman who plays it."