Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars?
Covering the Economy: BEA January 27 GDP Release: WSJ Economists React

Covering the Economy: BEA January 27 GDP Release: WSJ Chartbook

WSJ.com : Year-End Chartbook 2005: THE U.S. ECONOMY STEAMED through its fourth year of expansion during 2005 despite being beset on all sides by potential hazards. Soaring energy prices, increasing global imbalances, a super-heated housing market and rising interest rates were just a few of the obstacles faced down by the economy last year. Though a devastating hurricane season couldn't swamp growth in the third quarter -- gross domestic product then grew at a 4.1% annual rate -- weaker consumer spending was a drag on growth in the fourth quarter, when GDP expanded at a 1.1% rate. For all of 2005, GDP grew 3.5%.

Nonetheless, peril from high energy prices and the potential bursting of a housing-market bubble hasn't been completely cast aside. Commodity costs are still a concern for manufacturers and economists are worried that consumers could be faced with higher prices if companies attempt to pass on their higher expenses. Housing recently has been showing signs of slowing down. The homes market has ebbed in the past only to rebound, but a more permanent downturn could have serious consequences for growth.

Take a look at how six key economic indicators -- employment, retail sales, consumer confidence, consumer inflation, existing-home sales and the trade deficit -- fared in 2005, and where they could be headed this year.

Research by: Tim Annett. Illustration by: Paul Antonson