The Labor Department announced last week that the U.S. economy grew by just 103,000 jobs in September. A number like that isn't even enough to keep up with population growth. The fact that the report was widely greeted as positive news suggests just how low expectations have sunk this year.
Since January, the U.S. economy has been hit by a series of external shocks that brought a modest recovery nearly to a halt. The slowdown, however, may have been under way even before the shocks took place.