Temporary slowdown or break in the trend? Our autopsy of initial first-quarter growth figures in developed countries

The slowdown in growth in the first few months of 2018 has surprised many observers, who were optimistic about the outlook for this year and next after economies had ended 2017 strongly. Looking at recently released first-quarter GDP estimates, the analysis work mainly involves trying to separate temporary drivers of the slowdown from potentially longer-lasting ones. The results will determine how sensitive consensus forecasts are to these first-quarter data, whether central banks will change their outlooks, and how observers expect interest rates and corporate earnings to develop. At this stage, there are three key takeaways from recently released figures:

–     a widespread slowdown in consumer spending,

–     weaker growth in business investment,

–     a halt in foreign trade growth.

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