News

US Economic Downturn Seen as Mild, Brief

A Washington-based business group says the U.S. economy remains sluggish, but will likely avoid a major recession. VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

The last two U.S. recessions, in the early 1990s and in 2001, saw quarters in which America's economy contracted, with inflation-adjusted gross domestic product registering negative growth rates. This year, the U.S. economy has flirted with recession, but has averted an actual contraction, logging a 0.6 percent growth rate in the first quarter.

A panel of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics expects America's anemic economic growth to continue in the short term, expanding only 0.4 percent for the second quarter of this year. Lynn Reaser, an economist for Bank of America who heads NABE's economic forecasting committee, says the overall projection is for an economic downturn that is both mild and brief.

"This is a very shallow downturn," said Reaser. "In fact, only slightly more than half of our [NABE] members believe it will ultimately be declared a recession. And, of those, the majority believe it will be over either this quarter or the next [one]."

The NABE panel expects economic growth to pick up in the second half of the year, at a two percent annual growth rate. The U.S. unemployment rate is expected to continue to rise, but only modestly to 5.6 percent next year.

The NABE panel points to some encouraging signs for the economy, including expanding U.S. exports and a narrowing U.S. trade deficit. The panel expects the U.S. dollar, which has fallen dramatically against the Euro and other major currencies, to stabilize and eventually strengthen.

Worries about the U.S. economy began to escalate last year, prompted in large part by a rash of foreclosures among Americans with so-called "sub-prime" mortgages that were given to homebuyers with spotty credit histories. The sub-prime crisis provoked a broader credit crunch that has made it difficult for many businesses and consumers to secure loans, constraining economic activity and devastating the U.S. housing market.

Turmoil in financial markets and higher energy prices are taking a toll on current growth, as well.

Lynn Reaser says NABE economists believe the worst of the credit crunch is likely over.

"What this survey suggests is that, perhaps, credit availability will actually improve in the second half of this year," said Reaser. "It is important because there have been concerns that all of the problems on Wall Street would crimp borrowing for businesses and consumers on Main Street [the broader economy]. It still will be a constraint going forward, but we think that credit markets will loose some of their tight grip as we move through the balance of 2008."

The NABE forecast appears to be in line with other U.S. economic signals. Another group, the New York-based Conference Board, said that its index of leading economic indicators edged higher in April. The slight rise in the index, which is designed to forecast short-term economic performance, is seen as a sign of continued economic weakness, but does not foreshadow a drastic downturn.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs