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Jay Powell U.S. economy

The US economy is on a tear. Will it keep up?

The American economy is on a hot streak. We’ll have a better idea of just how hot it is — and whether that might be a problem — later this morning when the Commerce Department releases Q1 GDP data.

Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal are guessing the U.S. economy will have grown by an annual rate of 2.2% in Q1. That’d technically mark a slowdown from the last quarter of 2023 when GDP clocked in at 3.4%.

But it’s tough to know how much stock to hold in those estimates at this point, frankly. The growth of the U.S. economy has consistently blown past analyst expectations over the last two years. A widely-predicted recession has proven elusive despite historically high interest rates and growing instability abroad.

Policymakers at the Federal Reserve will take a hard look at these figures as they face an increasingly uncertain inflation landscape. Strong GDP growth is generally a good thing, but a hotter economy is harder to shake inflation out of.

Fed Chair Jay Powell said earlier this month that recent higher-than-hoped-for inflation data tied to the Consumer Price Index had “clearly not given us greater confidence” in having price increases under control.

This data dump will dovetail nicely with the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation these days — the personal consumption expenditures index — when it’s released Friday morning. After that, all eyes will turn to the Federal Open Market Committee when Powell announces the Fed’s next interest rate move. Don’t expect a cut anytime soon.

— Brendan Pedersen

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