US GDP could slump by as much as 42.8% in the 2nd quarter, Atlanta Fed says

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta came out with its own dismal estimate for the US economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

US gross domestic product could slump by 42.8% in the second quarter, the bank’s GDPNow forecasting model showed Friday. The model a week earlier estimated a contraction of 34.9% for the period, which includes April through June. 

In the last week, a slew of new reports showed further damage to the US economy, likely pushing the forecasting model lower — it is best viewed as a “running estimate of real GDP growth based on available data for the current measured quarter,” according to the bank. 

US weekly jobless claims showed that an additional 3 million Americans filed for unemployment in one week, bringing the eight-week total to 36.5 million. In addition, retail sales plunged 16.4% in April, the worst drop on record as the crisis froze consumer spending. 

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In the first quarter, US GDP contracted by 4.8%, ending the longest economic expansion on record. Still, the first quarter slump reflected only the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning there’s worse to come. 

The Fed model is only slightly worse than other estimates for how much economic damage the US will see in the second quarter from sweeping lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

Goldman Sachs recently updated its forecast and thinks US GDP will slump 39% in the second quarter. JPMorgan’s estimate is for a GDP slump of 40%, tied with Deutsche Bank’s forecast for the “painfully evident” damage to the US economy. 

Still, economists expect that the US economy will rebound following reopening of businesses across the country. Most are forecasting positive GDP growth in the third quarter, reflecting pent-up demand for goods and services during coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

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