Unexpected U.S. Economy Growth

by Warren Seah

The U.S. economy has proven resilient despite initial concerns of a looming recession due to higher interest rates. The latest forecast by the National Association of Business Economists projects a robust 2.2% annual GDP growth for 2024, surpassing the earlier estimate of 1.3%.

Stronger Than Expected Performance

Traditionally, the optimal sustainable growth rate for the U.S. economy hovers around 1.8%. However, recent trends suggest that the economy is surpassing expectations.

In 2023, GDP saw a 2.5% increase, following a 1.9% rise in 2022 as the impact of the pandemic waned. This upward trajectory defied predictions of decreased consumer spending, higher unemployment rates, and reduced business profits.

Resilience in Consumer and Job Markets

Contrary to forecasts, consumer spending has remained robust, driven by a thriving job market that boasts some of the lowest unemployment rates in decades. At just 3.7%, unemployment is at a near half-century low, with consistent job creation.

Businesses, too, have reported increased profits and show little indication of scaling back operations. This positive sentiment has contributed to continued economic growth, with the second half of 2023 witnessing accelerated expansion and the strongest quarter of growth in ten years, excluding pandemic recovery data.

Promising Outlook

Looking ahead, first-quarter GDP is expected to climb close to 3%, signaling sustained strength in the U.S. economy amidst global uncertainty. The unforeseen resilience showcased by the economic landscape serves as a beacon of hope amid apprehensions of slowdowns and recessions.

In a twist of fate, inflation has declined more rapidly than expected by Wall Street SPX or the Federal Reserve. The inflation rate, measured by the central bank’s preferred metric, dropped to 2.6% annually as of December from a peak of 7.1% in mid-2022 – a significant shift.

Optimism in the Air

The amalgamation of steady economic expansion and a decrease in inflation has ignited a wave of confidence among consumers and businesses, reaching levels unseen in recent years. Lagging sectors like manufacturing are beginning to show signs of revival.

Positive Indicators

Optimism reverberates through the economy, fueled by strong corporate earnings and sky-high stock-market gains. This positive outlook is acting as a catalyst for economic growth, according to economists.

Future Projections

The current economic trajectory suggests that the Federal Reserve may consider lowering interest rates later in the year. This move could further fuel stock-market advancements, business investments, and overall economic expansion.

Anticipated Forecasts

As the Fed prepares to unveil its quarterly economic forecast on March 19-20, expectations are high for a revision in their GDP forecast. The current projection of 1.4% GDP growth in 2024 might see an upward adjustment.

“Increasingly, there is a shift towards a more optimistic growth perspective,” noted Neil Dutta, head of economics at Renaissance Macro Research. Dutta has long upheld the belief that the economy was more resilient than conventional forecasts suggested.

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