NABE Outlook Survey

October 2020

NABE Panelists Expect Strong Rebound in Third-Quarter GDP, but Panel Is Split as to When the U.S. Economy Will Match Pre-Pandemic Levels

The October 2020 NABE Outlook presents the consensus macroeconomic forecast of a panel of 52 professional forecasters (see last page for listing). The survey, covering the outlook for 2020 and 2021, was conducted September 10-21, 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. Eugenio Aleman, Wells Fargo, Survey Chair; Jan Hogrefe, Boeing; Jack Kleinhenz, CBE, National Retail Federation; Sara Rutledge, SRR Consulting; Yelena Shulyatyeva, Bloomberg LP; and Ryan Sweet, Moody’s Analytics, 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 sees a strong rebound in economic activity after the collapse experienced during the second quarter,” said NABE Vice President Manuel Balmaseda, CBE, chief economist, CEMEX. “The median forecast calls for a 25% annualized growth rate in the third quarter of 2020 for inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, or real GDP. That would reverse much of the 31% annualized decline from the second quarter. However, the panel has become less bullish about the fourth quarter of 2020, as well as 2021. The median real GDP growth estimate for 2021 is 3.6%, compared to a 4.8% forecast in the June survey.”

“NABE panelists have become more optimistic, on balance, but remain concerned about a potential second wave of COVID-19,” added Outlook Survey Chair Eugenio Aleman, economist, Wells Fargo Bank. “Thirty-eight percent of panelists believe that the economy will have returned to pre-pandemic GDP levels by the second half of 2021, 32% expect it to reach that level in the first half of 2022, and 30% believe it will occur in the second half of 2022 or later.

"About half of the panelists put the odds of a double-dip recession at 20% or less," continued Aleman. "In contrast, one out of eight panelists places those odds at 50% or higher."