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GDP in US to expand 2.9% in 2018, recession not in sight: Forecast

May 24, 2018

Gross domestic product will expand by a strong 2.9% in 2018, according to the “The Forecast of the Nation” released by the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The GDP will then moderate to 2.4% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, according to the forecast.

And talk of a recession is premature.

The forecast expects job growth to remain at about the same level in 2018 due to a slight pickup in business investment. Jobs will grow by a monthly rate of 180,200 in 2018 before softening to 158,700 in 2019 and 111,800 in 2020.

While a lot of companies made plans to bring back their cash from abroad, those funds seem to have gone into share buybacks, according to Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center. “Tax changes take time to filter through, and businesses require much calmer financial markets than we are currently experiencing,” he said.

And despite forecasts and media reports signaling that an inverted yield curve could be on the horizon, potentially indicating a recession, Dhawan believes the Fed can hold off these concerns.

“Recession talk is premature,” Dhawan wrote. “What happens to the long-bond yield as the Fed hikes rates is key. Long-bond yields are determined both by global capital flows (especially foreign demand for Treasurys) and the domestic debt issuance in response to the federal fiscal deficit. Global capital flows may fluctuate with the volume of trade but it’s clear given the recent budget passage of spending increases and last December’s tax cuts that issuance of Treasury bills is expected to rise sharply in the coming quarters.”

Dhawan expects a steady rise in the long-bond yields. “We will get a rate hike in June,” he wrote in the report. “Then the Fed will wait until December to see the impact of its previous hikes.”

After the two remaining hikes in 2018, expect two more in 2019 and one in 2020. “This is a perfect soft-landing forecast with no recession,” said Dhawan.

Dhawan also advises patience when reviewing poor consumption and retail sales figures from the first quarter.

“Consumers have just begun to experience the tax cuts in their paychecks, but they still haven’t registered fully,” he said. “Some purchasing power has been eaten away by elevated gas prices, which will delay the impact of the tax cut led spending boom small businesses are eagerly awaiting.”

A separate Zillow survey of more than 100 economists and housing experts also expects monetary policy to be the likeliest cause of the next recession. Overall, nearly half of all the experts surveyed expect the next recession to begin sometime in 2020, with 22% saying they expected that recession to begin in the first quarter of that year. More than half of the survey respondents pointed to monetary policy as the likeliest cause.

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