The U.S. economy is expected to grow roughly six percent for the year, however with one quarter to go in 2021, this year has done its best to be as tumultuous and volatile as the last. It feels like we’ve been on this road for a while, with the same kinds of bumps to navigate including COVID, deepening supply chain issues, higher energy prices, a recent cutback in consumer spending, and the scarcity of materials. What everyone had hoped would be a more normalized environment has turned out to be anything but that.
After a rapid rebound in U.S. economic growth during Q2 2021, news of the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus variant created a cloudier outlook. Today there are two perspectives from which to dissect the near-term future, namely glass half empty or glass half full. On the one hand, although the U.S. has achieved months of steadily declining case counts, the fight against the pandemic appears far from over. COVID-19 continues to loom large as new, more transmissible variants, and ongoing virus outbreaks in places like Australia, India, South Korea, and the continent of Africa highlight that the world remains vulnerable to the pandemic. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 60 percent of all Americans are fully vaccinated. On the other hand, the recent swift U.S. economic recovery is unlike any in recent history as U.S. startup businesses are launching at the fastest pace ever, household debt-service burdens in relation to after-tax income are at the lowest levels in decades, home prices are surging, and the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq are both up approximately 30% compared to the same period a year ago, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen more than 20%. Widespread vaccination during the first half of 2021, and over two trillion dollars in additional personal savings throughout the last year have provided American consumers the means to spend; specifically on discretionary items such as travel.