According to a report released Friday, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a 5.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter, exceeding most estimates. But many economists are skeptical that such growth is sustainable. In fact, many analysts say the numbers are downright misleading.
Roughly two thirds of the growth came from businesses restocking inventories. Efforts to rebuild inventories contributed 3.4 percentage points to GDP growth - the most in two decades. But there wasn't a lot of "sell-through." In fact, excluding the change in inventories, final sales increased at a 2.2% annual rate, a signal that the economy remained weak despite strong top-line numbers.