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In a pattern similar to that of the previous year, the U.S. economy appeared to slow down this past winter. The Bureau of Economic Analysis currently estimates that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 0.6% (at an annualized rate) in the first quarter of 2015. And as in the previous year, harsh winter weather has been cited by some observers as being responsible for the slowdown. However, there is substantial disagreement on the impact of weather on economic activity.p>
According to participants in the Chicago Fed’s annual Automotive Outlook Symposium, the nation’s economic growth is forecasted to be near its long-term average this year and to strengthen somewhat in 2016. Inflation is expected to decrease in 2015 but rebound in 2016. The unemployment rate is anticipated to move lower through the end of 2016, reaching 5 percent by then. Light vehicle sales are predicted to improve moderately in 2015 and 2016.