Thursday, August 20, 2009

How fast can the economy grow?

From the Atkanta Federal Reserve's Macroblog:

The recession may be ending (and may, in fact, have ended, according to the majority of economists recently surveyed by the Wall Street Journal) but, as Friday's consumer confidence report suggests, the uncertainty about the course of future growth is far from resolved. The most recent consensus forecast from the panel assembled for the monthly Blue Chip Economic Indicators does suggest a nice bounce back into positive growth territory, bringing to an end a four-quarter run of gross domestic product (GDP) contraction.


(click on image to enlarge)

What remains interesting, however, is the range of disagreement about just how fast the recovery will be. The upper and lower black lines in the chart above delineate the 10 most optimistic forecasts (the upper lines) and the least optimistic forecasts (the lower lines) among the Blue Chip panel's 51 economists. Most interesting is the fact that some collection of theses economists are, in any given quarter, guessing that growth will not break a 2 percent annual pace before we exit 2010.

That uncertainty is compounded by an even more consequential uncertainty, lucidly emphasized recently by Menzie Chinn (here, here, and here): How fast can we grow before straining the economy's capacity? In other words, is slow growth the best we can expect given the economy's current potential?>>>MORE