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CBO’s Outlook for the Economy in February 2014

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  • Douglas W Elmendorf

Abstract

These remarks summarize the economic forecast and budget outlook that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published in February 2014. The discussion has not been updated to reflect subsequent economic and budget data or subsequent projections by CBO. Under an assumption that current laws governing federal taxes and spending remain in place, CBO projects that real GDP will expand by roughly 3 percent between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2014—the largest rise in nearly a decade. Similar annual growth rates are projected through 2017. Nevertheless, CBO estimates that the economy will continue to have considerable slack for the next few years. To a large degree, the slow recovery of the labor market since the official end of the recession in 2009 reflects slow growth in the demand for goods and services. To a smaller degree, that slow recovery is the result of structural factors that stem from the recession and the subsequent weak growth of output but that are not directly related to the economy’s current cyclical weakness. The unemployment rate is expected to remain above 6.0 percent until late 2016. Moreover, labor force participation is projected to move only slowly back toward what it would be without the cyclical weakness in the economy. Beyond 2017, CBO expects that economic growth will be well below the average seen over the past several decades, primarily because of slower growth in the labor force arising from the aging of the population. Inflation, as measured by the change in the price index for personal consumption expenditures, is expected to remain at or below 2.0 percent throughout the next decade. Interest rates on Treasury securities are projected to increase in the next few years as the economy strengthens. The federal budget deficit has fallen sharply during the past few years, and it is on a path to decline further this year and next year. However, if current laws remain unchanged, the deficit will increase again after a few years because revenues are expected to grow at roughly the same pace as GDP whereas spending is expected to grow more rapidly. Federal debt held by the public is expected to equal 74 percent of GDP at the end of this year and close to 80 percent a decade from now.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas W Elmendorf, 2014. "CBO’s Outlook for the Economy in February 2014," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 49(3), pages 142-148, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:buseco:v:49:y:2014:i:3:p:142-148
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