December 21, 2020
A NEW ECONOMIC START IN 2021
Barry Gilbert, CFA, PhD, Asset Allocation Strategist, LPL Financial
Nick Pergakis, Analyst, LPL Financial
After modest growth to begin 2020, the economy screeched to a halt as the onset of the pandemic ended the longest economic expansion ever. A record decline in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter was followed by record GDP growth in the third quarter as the economy emerged from lock downs. After such a tumultuous year in 2020, we take a look at what’s in store for the economy in 2021.
2021 ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
As we turn the page to 2021, we expect real GDP growth in the United States of 4–4.5%, modestly outpacing our forecast of 3.75%–4.25% for our developed international counterparts. Emerging market economies, particularly in Asia, have fared better in controlling the outbreak of COVID-19, and we believe their economies may be in a better position heading into 2021. We forecast 5–5.5% real GDP growth for emerging markets.
After GDP contracted an annualized 5% during the first quarter of 2020 and then a record 31% in the second quarter, the economy revved back up with a 33% jump in the third quarter, bouncing off depressed levels. Record fiscal and monetary stimulus helped provide additional fuel for the economy as it emerged from lock downs. We expected the 2020 recession would be one of the shortest recessions ever, and although the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has yet to declare it officially, the recession probably lasted less than six months.
When the economy began to shift into gear in the second half of 2020, we believe a new economic expansion likely began. Dating back to WWII, economic expansions have lasted more than five years on average, with the past four expansions averaging more than eight years [Figure 1].