(Reuters) – The U.S. economy will grow at its fastest annual pace in decades this year and outperform most of its major peers, with the outlook upgraded sharply, but another COVID-19 surge was the biggest risk over the next three months, a Reuters poll showed.
There was a new wave of optimism among economic forecasters predicting a boost to economic activity from the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package already passed and also from U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion-plus infrastructure plan, according to the April 16-20 poll of over 100 economists.
The world’s largest economy was predicted to grow on average 6.2% this year, the brightest outlook since polling began for the period more than two years ago and if achieved would mark the fastest annual expansion since 1984.
While the International Monetary Fund’s latest projection of 6.4% expansion was slightly more optimistic than the poll consensus, about 15% of 105 economists predicted the economy would grow 7% or more this year, with the range of forecasts showing higher highs and higher lows compared with last month.
But nearly 70% of economists, or 39 of 56, in response to an additional question said the biggest risk to the economy was a resurgence in coronavirus cases over the next three months.
“We raised our growth forecast due to additional fiscal stimulus and the speedy vaccination program,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.”