NABE Outlook Survey 

December 2020


NABE Panel Expects More Moderate GDP Growth in the Fourth Quarter,
Most Anticipate the Economy Returning to Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2021

The December 2020 NABE Outlook presents the consensus macroeconomic forecast of a panel of 48 professional forecasters (see last page for listing). The survey, covering the outlook for 2020 and 2021, was conducted November 13-23, 2020. The NABE Outlook Survey originated in 1965, and is one of three surveys conducted by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE); the others are the NABE Business Conditions Survey and the NABE Economic Policy Survey. Founded in 1959, the National Association for Business Economics is the professional association for those who use economics in their work. NABE has over 2,900 members and 44 chapters nationwide. Holly Wade (Chair), NFIB Research Center; Gregory Daco, Oxford Economics; Jan Hogrefe, Boeing; Mervin Jebaraj, University of Arkansas; Jack Kleinhenz, CBE, National Retail Federation; Jed Kolko, Indeed; and Kathleen Navin, CBE, IHS Markit, conducted the analysis of survey responses for this report. The views expressed in this report are those of the panelists, and do not necessarily represent the views of their affiliated companies or institutions. This report may be reproduced in whole or in part with appropriate citation to NABE.

SUMMARY: “The NABE Outlook panel anticipates more moderate growth in economic activity going forward after the sharp rebound during the third quarter,” said NABE President Manuel Balmaseda, CBE, chief economist, CEMEX. “The median forecast calls for a 4.1% annualized growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 for inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, or real GDP. In addition to the 33.1% GDP growth in the third quarter of the year, this would reverse much of the 32% annualized decline from the second quarter. However, the panel has become slightly less bullish about 2021. The median real GDP growth estimate for 2021 is 3.4%, slightly less than the 3.6% forecasted in the October survey.” “NABE panelists have become more optimistic, on balance, with nearly one-third revising their outlook higher based on recent news of effective vaccines,” added Survey Chair Holly Wade, executive director, NFIB Research Center. “Seventy-three percent of panelists believe that the economy will have returned to pre-pandemic GDP levels by the second half of 2021, 18% expect it to reach that level in the first half of 2022, and 10% believe it will occur in the second half of 2022 or later. The 73% is a dramatic improvement from the October survey in which 38% of panelists believed that a full recovery would occur before 2022. “Just over one-third of respondents anticipate more downside risk to economic growth in 2021,” continued Wade. “Panelists point to a second wave of COVID-19 cases as their main concern.”