Delta variant and great global bottleneck in supply chains slow down US economic recovery | Economy


Containers waiting to be unloaded at the port of Long Beach, California, on October 1.
Containers waiting to be unloaded at the port of Long Beach, California, on October 1.Jae C. Hong (AP)

The delta variant of the coronavirus and the great global bottleneck in supply chains have slowed the growth of the US economy in the third quarter of the year. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the world’s leading power grew by 2% annualized between July and September (0.5% quarterly), more than four points lower than in the two previous quarters, due to the stagnation of the factors that They had catapulted GDP in the first half of the year: the federal injection of stimuli, the generalized pace of business reopening and the increase in vaccination rates.

The braking is notorious. GDP grew at a historic 6.3% year-on-year rate in the first quarter of the year, and 6.7% in the second, thanks to stimulus checks from President Joe Biden’s pandemic bailout plan. During the spring, the reopening of economic activity became general and the increase in vaccination rates suggested that the pandemic was definitely behind us. But the contagiousness of the delta variant of the virus, multiplied by the resistance of a considerable percentage of the population to be vaccinated, sowed doubts already in summer about the recovery. Two additional factors, which have emerged this last quarter, have contributed to the prick: a spike in the number of covid-19 cases and global supply chain congestion.

Consumption, a great indicator of optimism or fears in an economy, slowed to a year-on-year rate of 1.6% in the third quarter, well below the 12% registered in the previous quarter. The rate shows the drop in spending on non-perishable goods, the availability of which was also limited by a reduction in supply. The congestion in the ports and the interruption of the production and distribution chains have triggered inflation and dampen the expansion forecasts, although analysts expect the economy to return to its growth path in the last quarter, which coincides with the season. most intense shopping and travel of the year.

If logistical problems are overcome, consumers can save the holiday season, according to forecasts, thanks to increased wages and savings accumulated in three rounds of federal stimulus (two approved under Trump, and the third, in the Biden’s rescue plan). Americans saved at an annualized rate of $ 1.7 trillion in August, up from $ 1.4 trillion in February 2020, according to the Commerce Department.

The relative slowdown in growth has not prevented the stock market from showing an upward trend at the opening of the session, pending the presentation of results throughout the day from Apple and Amazon, among other important companies. Meanwhile, claims for workers’ unemployment benefits fell last week to their lowest level since the pandemic began. Unemployment benefits fell to 281,000 last week from 291,000 registered the previous week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

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