Goldman Sachs is growing increasingly pessimistic about the US economy as government support for coronaviruses fades and consumer spending remains volatile.
What’s going on: The Wall Street bank downgraded its forecast for America’s economic growth over the weekend, which is closely watched by the investment community. Goldman Sachs now expects the economy to grow by 5.6 percent this year, up from 5.7 percent previously. Growth is expected to slow to 4% in 2022, down from 4.4 percent in 2018.
It’s the second time in two months that Goldman Sachs has reduced its 2021 forecast. The bank’s economists attributed the shift in its outlook to two major factors. One example is that Covid-19 relief programs are set to be phased out “significantly” by the end of the year, removing a source of income for some households.
Another source of concern is that consumers are not spending enough money on services to compensate for a decrease in spending on goods.
“Consumers’ service spending will need to recover quickly to compensate for a decline in goods spending as the latter normalizes from its current elevated level,” Goldman Sachs warned clients. “This will likely prove difficult as long as Covid cases remain high, because many people still feel at least somewhat uneasy engaging in many activities that were routine prior to the pandemic.”
Goldman Sachs also believes that spending will fall as people continue to work from home, encouraging them to prepare their own lunches rather than eating out.
Another point of view: For its part, Bank of America has been encouraged by spending trends gleaned from US credit and debit card data. “We believe the recent decrease in cases has alleviated Covid concerns,” said Candace Browning, head of BofA Global Research.
The bank discovered that spending at daycare centers in September was 52 percent higher than the previous year and only 13 percent lower than the same period in 2019, which it called a “encouraging sign.” It also noted that spending on travel and entertainment is “improving,” though gains have not been distributed evenly across the country. People in Florida have been significantly more willing to splurge on entertainment than in states such as New York and Pennsylvania.
Bottom line: The overall picture for Covid-19 in the United States is improving as new infections and hospitalizations decrease. “Hopefully, it will continue on that downward trajectory,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Sunday.
However, the country continues to report approximately 95,000 new infections per day, which Fauci describes as “far too high.” This makes it difficult for economists to forecast the future of the American economy.
Keep an eye on this: Because they track money flows, US banks have a good understanding of the health of US consumers. Investors will be watching their comments on the subject closely when they report earnings later this week.
Netflix no longer wants you to simply binge its movies and shows. It also wants you to buy shirts, dolls, and other novelty items inspired by its original programs, providing the company with a new source of revenue as it loses subscribers in North America.
The background: Netflix opened an online store in June, indicating that it was interested in replicating the model perfected by competitor Disney, which makes a fortune from its intellectual property through theme parks and clothing sales.
Walmart’s agreement indicates that it is stepping up its efforts. That makes perfect sense.
While Netflix’s international subscriber base is rapidly expanding, particularly in Asia, the company lost 433,000 subscribers in the United States and Canada between April and June. Partnering with Walmart opens up a new way to generate revenue — and could spur greater interest in its shows among shoppers.