Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coming months for US Finances will be horrific

A drumbeat of disappointing data about consumer behavior, factory sales and weak hiring in recent weeks has prompted economists to ratchet down their 2011 economic forecasts to as little as half what they expected at the beginning of the year.

Two months ago, Goldman Sachs projected that the economy would grow at a 4 percent annual rate in the quarter ending in June. The company now expects the government to report no more than 2 percent growth when data for the second quarter is released in a few weeks.

Macroeconomic Advisers, a research firm, projected 3.5 percent growth back in April and is now down to just 2.1 percent for this quarter.

Both these firms, well respected in their analysis, have cut their forecasts for the second half of the year as well. Then this week, the Federal Reserve downgraded its projections for the full year, to under 3 percent growth. It started the year with guidance as high as 3.9 percent.

Two years into the official recovery, the economy is still behaving like a plane taxiing indefinitely on the runway. Few economists are predicting an out-and-out return to recession, but the risk has increased, with the health of the American economy depending in part on what is really “transitory.”

During the first press conference in the central bank’s history two months ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke used the word to describe factors — including supply chain disruptions after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and rising oil prices — that were restraining economic growth in the first half of the year. (read more)