United States: Economy

 Well developed, highly industrialized and rich, the US economy caters to a huge domestic market and exporting machinery and electrical goods, transport equipment, chemicals and food. Aerospace and defense equipment manufacturers are also important exporters. Private consumption is by far the largest component of US GDP.

After a slowdown at the beginning of the 1990s, in early 1992, the economy began to recover, and recorded steady rates of growth until 2000. After experiencing GDP growth of 5 per cent in 2000, growth fell to 0.3 per cent in 2001. In late-2001, the US economy was further affected by uncertainty following the 11 September terrorist attacks.

The US's economic prospects appear uncertain, with volatile levels of growth recorded throughout 2002. The first and third quarters recorded growth rates of at least 4 per cent, while the second and fourth quarters showed growth of around 1 per cent. The first quarter of 2003 recorded growth of 1.4 per cent.

The Bush administration has pursued expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, with low interest rates and a series of fiscal stimulus packages. Despite this, there was no turn-around in business fixed investment in 2002 and falls on the stock markets have depressed consumer demand. A pick-up in the stock markets in the first half of 2003 led to hope that the economy had finally turned a corner, although the unemployment rate remained above 6 per cent, which had an adverse affect on consumer demand.

However, at end-2002, there were reports of falling unemployment, rising manufacturing growth and increased consumer spending, prompting many to declare that the US was well on the road to recovery. Consensus forecasts were rosy, with the economy expected to grow by between 2.4--2.9 per cent in 2003. However, the US is faced with significant challenges, notably the fall-out from the Iraq War


CIA World Factbook (September 2008)
U.S. Dept. of State Country Background Notes (October 2008)


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