The American economy grew at an annual rate of 2.3% in the third quarter of the year, slightly better than initially calculated, the Commerce Department reported. However, there are some doubts about the prospects for a rapid rebound due to the emergence of the contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.
In the July-September period, the gross domestic product of the United States – the total production of all goods and services originating in the country – was higher than the estimate made last month of 2.1 percent.
The good performance was mainly due to higher-than-expected consumer spending and a higher increase in inventories by businesses.
The trend comes after skyrocketing growth earlier this year, when the US economy began to recover from the pandemic. Growth was 6.3% in the first quarter and 6.7% in the second, but the rally cooled in the summer as the delta variant of the coronavirus emerged.
Now that the new omicron variant has emerged, in addition to higher inflation and supply chain disruptions, the future economic outlook looks more uncertain.
Such fears have caused violent ups and downs in the Stock Market, although the belief that the risks of the omicron variant will be manageable caused a rally of 560 points in the Dow Jones industrial average.
But nevertheless, several economists believe it is too early to totally dismiss the threats posed by the new variant.
“History repeats itself: the COVID virus is making a comeback and frustrating the economic outlook,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University.
The Oxford Economics firm lowered its economic growth forecast for the current quarter, from 7.8% to 7.3%, although it would still be a considerable increase over the third period figure.