45 economists say the U.S is now in recession

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The United States is already in a recession and will remain that way for the first half of the year, according to a National Association for Business Economics survey.

The 45 economists surveyed by NABE expect the economy to shrink by a 26.5% rate in the second quarter, after a 2.4% decline in GDP in the first quarter. In the second half, they expect growth to turn positive, with an increase of 2% in the third quarter and 5.8% in the fourth quarter.

“NABE Outlook Survey panelists believe that the U.S. economy is already in recession and will remain in a contractionary state for the first half of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricts economic activity,” said NABE President Constance Hunter, CBE, chief economist, KPMG.

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The US labor market will also take a major hit as the coronavirus outbreak shutters businesses. The NABE says the unemployment rate is expected to spike to 12% by midyear, while the United States may lose 4.58 million jobs in the second quarter.

That job loss will drag on spending, a major driver of the US economy. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of economic growth.

Despite the abrupt downturn, “The panel is optimistic about a return to economic growth in the latter half of 2020, anticipating an annualized real GDP growth rate of 2.0% in the third quarter,” Constance Hunter added.

“Despite a sharp deterioration in labor market conditions, the median forecast suggests conditions will improve by the end of the year with support from aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus, as panelists expect the Federal Reserve to hold steady on near-zero interest rates through 2021.”

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Meanwhile, Federal Reserve researchers predict the number of virus-related bankruptcies could jump by 200,000 to nearly 1 million in the coming months unless government programs help stem the tide.

The Federal Reserve on Thursday announced an additional $2.3 trillion in loans for small businesses and consumers. This move comes on top of numerous other lending programs at the central bank, and cutting interest rates to zero in an effort to prop up the US economy.

Coronavirus could lead to surge in corporate and personal bankruptcies, experts warn