US economy has weakest performance in three years

Slowdown reflects slower consumer spending, which grew by just 0.3%

Donald Trump: he  attacked  weak GDP rates as an example of the Obama administration’s failed policies

Donald Trump: he attacked weak GDP rates as an example of the Obama administration’s failed policies

 

The US economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending.

The result repeats a pattern that has characterised the recovery: lacklustre beginnings to the year.

The US commerce department says the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, grew by just 0.7 per cent in the first quarter following a gain of 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter.

The slowdown primarily reflected slower consumer spending, which grew by just 0.3 per cent after a 3.5 per cent gain in the fourth quarter. It was the poorest showing in more than seven years.

Analysts blame in part the unusually warm winter, which meant less spending on utility bills.

Economists believe the slowdown will be temporary. They forecast GDP growth will rebound to 3 per cent or better in the current quarter.

Averaging the two quarters, they forecast growth of around 2 per cent for the first half of this year. That would be in line with the mediocre performance of the eight-year economic expansion, when growth has averaged just 2.1 per cent, the poorest showing for any recovery in the post-war period.

GDP rates

Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the weak GDP rates during the election campaign as an example of the Obama administration’s failed economic policies. He said his programme of tax cuts for individuals and businesses, deregulation and tougher enforcement of trade agreements would double growth to 4 per cent or better.

“There are a lot of tailwinds behind consumers going into the spring, including low unemployment, better wage growth, high consumer confidence and record stock prices,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.– Guardian Service