– Pentagon spending hits five-year high amid anti-ISIS campaign (RT, Oct 31, 2014):
The rate at which the United States economy grew last quarter has surpassed the expectations of experts, and a surge in military spending is said to be the culprit.
On Thursday, the US Commerce Department announced that the country’s gross domestic product, or GDP, grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate for the third quarter of 2014, well beyond Bloomberg’s forecasted pace of only 3.0 percent.
The reason for the better-than-expected results, early reports indicate, is a spike in defense spending during Q3. The Pentagon saw its spending during the last quarter go up by 16 percent, signaling a five-year high not seen since the US was involved in wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. So significant was defense spending during the last quarter, in fact, that the 16 percent growth seen in that sector is said to have helped the economy overcome below-expectation consumer spending rates recorded during that same span.
“This is the strongest six-month interval we’ve had in 10 years,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at the Northern Trust Company, told the New York Times on Thursday,.
“Consumers were a little less active than we might have thought,”Tannenbaum said, adding, “the things that drove us were not the usual suspects,” referring to the defense sector bump.
“The bottom line: third quarter growth was stronger than expected, but the composition of the growth wasn’t what we were be hoping for,” CNBC “On-Air Stocks” editor Bob Pisani wrote this week.
Indeed, the surge in military spending comes despite the imminent withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan after 13 years of war, the longest such operation in the Pentagon’s history. Nonetheless, the starting of a new campaign in recent months in the Middle East where the movements of the so-called Islamic State group have been met with American airstrikes have likely lumped more money into defense spending then Washington had expected. Reuters reported on Thursday this week that defense spending was directly responsible for adding 0.66 percentage points to the GDP growth, citing specifically an increase in spending on ammunition and jet fuel, with Jeffry Bartash at MarketWatch agreeing that the surge came not due to weapons purchases, but ammo, missiles and oil, as well as spending on personnel and installation support.