Marilyn Geewax

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The U.S. economy didn't grow as quickly as many economists had hoped, according to numbers released Friday by the Commerce Department.

During the final three months of 2017, a closely followed measure of the whole economy, called the gross domestic product, a rose at a 2.6 percent annualized rate. That's reasonably good, but less than the 3.2-percent pace in the third quarter. Most economists had been predicting about 3 percent growth.

Before Donald Trump took the oath of office one year ago, the presidency was widely seen as an all-consuming, full-time job.

It's New Year's Day, so it's time for football, hangovers, resolutions — and forecasts.

With the first three, you're on your own. But for forecasts, we have economists to help. They get paid to peer into the future, and in general, they are seeing good times ahead, thanks to an upbeat business cycle.

"The stage is set for continued solid growth in 2018," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit, said in his annual forecast. "While economic risks remain, most are low-level threats to the overall picture for 2018."

Ten years ago this month, you may not have noticed the cracking and crumbling under you.

At the time, you may have had a job, a home and rising retirement savings. Sure, the housing market was hurting a lot, but stock prices were still holding up and Federal Reserve policymakers were offering reasons for calm, saying they expected strong consumer spending.

This may not be good news for your waistline, but your sweet tooth might appreciate it: Halloween candy sales are crackerjack this year.

"Consumer confidence is riding high, so consumers are likely to splurge a little more on edible goodies," David Deull, a senior economist with IHS Markit, said in his analysis of 2017 Halloween spending.

Halloween candy sales are expected to rise 4.1 percent from last year, reaching a seasonally adjusted $4.1 billion, he said.

When negotiators for the United States, Canada and Mexico wrapped up the latest round of trade talks in Washington on Tuesday, they sounded frustrated — and far apart.

From cars to cows, they have big disagreements over how the North American Free Trade Agreement should work. In fact, the disputes appear so big, they may be threatening the future of NAFTA.

So officials have agreed to delay their next meeting — pushing off its start in Mexico City until Nov. 17; they originally had planned to meet later this month.

When corporate chief executives appear before Congress, they come braced for battle, but hope for gentle treatment.

Tender handling is not what they got on Tuesday. Not from Republicans. Not from Democrats.

Not when they were representing Wells Fargo and Equifax — two huge companies that recently have harmed Americans.

"At best, you were incompetent. At worst, you were complicit. And either way you should be fired," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan.

With Hurricane Maria still smashing up Puerto Rico, the economic costs of this year's hurricane season continue to grow by the minute. It will take a while for economists to tally it all up.

But this much already is clear: The recent enormous storms have taken a toll on the housing industry.

Three separate industry reports, issued over the past three days, have all shown that rough weather in the South and wildfires in the West have been creating problems for this key economic sector.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking on Fox & Friends Thursday, said the Trump administration's hiring efforts are being hindered by the "hoops you have to jump through" to comply with Office of Government Ethics rules.

"There are so many qualified men and women who wanted to serve this administration and their country who have been completely demoralized and completely disinclined to do so based on the paperwork we have to put forward, divesting assets," Conway said.