The U.S. government said this morning that the economy grew by 2.8 percent in the last three months of 2011. - 

Jeremy Hobson: The government said this morning that the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 2.8 percent in the last three months of 2011. That's less than the 3 percent many economists were hoping for, but it's better than the previous quarter.

For more, let's bring in Gus Faucher. He's a senior economist with PNC Bank and he's with us live from Philadelphia. Good morning.

Gus Faucher: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: So, Gus, is this 2.8 percent a good number, a bad number -- or neither?

Faucher: Well, it's an OK number. If the economy were doing well -- if the unemployment rate were 5 or 6 percent -- it'd be a very good number. But given that we still have a lot slack in the economy -- that the unemployment rate is 8.5 percent -- I'd have to say it's disappointing.

Hobson: Well I have to say, a lot of people seem to agree with you this morning that it's not what most people were hoping for. But if you compare it to other developed economies -- say, in Europe -- it is pretty good, right?

Faucher: That's certainly the case. It looks like Europe may be sliding into recession. They've got their financial crisis there; they're dealing with the effect of big government budget cuts. And so compared to Europe, we're doing a little bit better. But still, again, given where we are with the recovery, I would have liked to have seen stronger growth.

Hobson: What does this say about our recovery? We're four years out from the financial crisis -- is this an L-shaped recovery, one that just sort of dropped off and stayed flat?

Faucher: Well it's been a L-shaped recovery so far. I think there's a potential for it to turn into a U-shaped recovery -- a very shallow U -- where on the right-hand side, where we have growth picking up. You know, I do think we will see a stronger recovery over the next year or two, but we've had some significant drags that weigh on growth that's been disappointing.

Hobson: Gus Faucher is senior economist at PNC Bank.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson