The Republican plan to slash government spending by $61bn in 2011 could reduce US economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of the year, a Goldman Sachs economist has warned.
The note from Alec Phillips, a forecaster based in Washington, was seized in the ongoing US budget fight by Democrats as validating their argument that the legislation approved by the Republican-led House of Representatives last Saturday would do significant damage to the US recovery.
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, said: “This nonpartisan study proves that the House Republicans’ proposal is a recipe for a double-dip recession. Just as the economy is beginning to pick up a little steam, the Republican budget would snuff out any chance of recovery. This analysis puts a dagger through the heart of their ‘cut-and-grow’ fantasy”.
The Goldman analysis also points out that a potential compromise deal with $25bn in spending reductions this year – a more likely scenario – would lead to a smaller drag on growth of 1 percentage point in the second quarter.
Thereafter it would fade, with “negligible” impact on US output by the end of the year. This could make it harder for Democrats to argue that a more modest dose of spending reductions will have a meaningfully adverse economic impact.
Goldman, which is currently forecasting US gross domestic product growth of 4 per cent in the second and third quarters of 2011, also pegged the cost of a government shutdown to the US economy at $8bn in reduced spending per week, based on the experience of the federal closures of 1995 and 1996.