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US Economy Shows Signs of Slowing Again

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US Economy Shows Signs of Slowing Again

  1. 1. QNB Economicseconomics@qnb.com.qa08 June 20131US Economy Shows Signs of Slowing Again According tothe QNB GroupAccording to the QNB Group, the USeconomy may be slowing again, as highertaxes and lower government outlays lead toreduced consumer spending andmanufacturing. Last Friday, the USDepartment of Commerce announced thatconsumer spending, which accounts forabout 70% of US GDP, declined by 0.2% inApril—the first such decline in nearly a year.US Consumer Spending(% change, month-on-month)- 10/1204/12 06/12 04/1312/12 02/13Source: BloombergThis decline partly reflects the impact on USconsumers of higher payroll taxes in 2013. Inaddition, the so-called "sequestration" ofgovernment outlays since March 2013 isleading to lower incomes of governmentworkers and contractors. An estimated2m government workers have been forced tostay at home without pay a couple of daysper month. As a result, US personaldisposable income was unchanged for themonth of April.In related news, US manufacturingcontracted in May 2013 for the first time inalmost a year with the lowest reading sinceJune 2009, according to the Institute forSupply Management.ISM Manufacturing Index(Index number; a value less than 50 indicates a contraction)05/1349.050.703/1351.354.201/1353.150.211/1249.951.709/1251.650.707/1250.505/1252.550.250Source: BloombergWhile a smaller portion of the US economy,manufacturing has traditionally been abellwether for overall US economic activity.In addition, real GDP growth for the firstquarter of 2013 was revised down to 2.4%last week and initial jobless claims rose to354,000 in the week ending the 25th of May.On the positive side, US consumerconfidence remains at a five-hear high,boosted by higher housing and share prices.These latest statistics suggest that the USeconomy is likely to slow down during theremainder of 2013, according to the QNBGroup. The economy had alreadyexperienced a significant slowdown in thefourth quarter of 2012 (0.4%), which Mr.Bernanke described as a "pause" earlier thisyear. That pause was mainly a reflection ofweak holiday sales and a cutback in private
  2. 2. QNB Economicseconomics@qnb.com.qa2investment. This latest slowdown, on theother hand, comes from the significantwithdrawal of fiscal stimulus through thepartial elimination of the so-called "Bush taxcuts" and the mandatory cutbacks ingovernment spending. If continued, thesepolicies are likely to result in a further dragon economic activity as more budget cutsfrom the “sequestration” negatively impactpersonal disposal income, consumerspending, and manufacturing.Overall, the picture for the US economyremains subdued. According to the QNBGroup, US real GDP growth this year mayonly reach the 1%-1.5% range, compared tothe consensus forecast of 1.9%, which willinevitably have a knock-on effect on theworld economy. As a result, global demandfor commodities is likely to be weaker,including for oil and gas. At the same time,lower US demand for exports from Europemay affect the speed at which the Euro arearecovers from the current recession. Exportindustries in Asia and the rest of the worldare also likely to be affected. In the currencymarket, lower US growth may lead to aweakening of the US dollar against othermajor currencies. Strong infrastructurespending and relatively high oil pricesshould, however, continue to protect Qatarand other GCC countries from these latestheadwinds from the US economy.** Ends **