Friday, February 27, 2009

US economy suffers sharp nosedive

The US economy shrank by 6.2% in the last three months of 2008, official figures have shown, a far sharper fall than had previously been reported.

Plunging exports and the biggest fall in consumer spending in 28 years dragged the figure down from the 3.8% estimate the government gave earlier.

The decline was much worse than analysts had expected.

In 2008 as a whole, the economy grew by 1.1%, the slowest pace since 2001. The Dow Jones was down 1.6% in early trade.

Recession warning

Consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of domestic economic activity, fell by a rate of 4.3% in the final quarter - the biggest fall since the second quarter of 1980. This was a revision of the earlier figure of 3.5%.

“ It shows the weak state of the world's largest economy ”
Matt Esteve
Tempus Consulting
With rising unemployment, sliding home values, increasing numbers of repossessions and the slumping value of investments, observers say many US consumers are hanging on to whatever disposable cash they have.

Meanwhile, exports - which had until recently been supporting the economy - fell at the sharpest rate since 1970 at an annual rate of 23.6%, down from 19.7%.

Earlier this week, Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke warned Congress that without the right policies from the government, the US recession could last into 2010.

But he said if the Obama administration and the central bank can restore some measure of financial stability, 2010 could be a year of recovery.

President Obama recently signed a $787bn (£556m) recovery package of increased government spending and tax cuts, and unveiled a $75bn scheme to stem repossessions.

No good news

The latest GDP figures were "just awful" said Matt Esteve, a currency trader at Tempus Consulting in Washington DC. "It shows the weak state of the world's largest economy."

And Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT Forex said there was "doom all over".

He predicted that the dollar would not weaken too much against the euro because "there's no good news on the other side of the Atlantic, either".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/02/27 14:47:57 GMT

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