US Tax Cuts Seen Giving Modest Growth Boost as Recession Looms

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Fiscal stimulus, including large Republican-backed tax cuts, will deliver a modest boost to the U.S. economy in the next two years, although many economists also expect a recession to start during that time, according to a new survey.

About half of economists say fiscal policy changes will augment U.S. growth by 0.2 to 0.39 percentage point in 2018, according to a survey of 51 forecasters by the National Association for Business Economics conducted Nov. 6-15. About one-fifth project a bigger gain and another fifth see no benefit to growth.

Since the survey was conducted, the Republican tax proposal has undergone numerous changes that could alter its impact on the economy, with the potential for further modifications during Senate and House negotiations before it heads for President Donald Trump’s signature.

Even with the bump, a slight majority anticipates a recession beginning sometime before the end of 2019, with most of that group seeing a business-cycle peak in the second half of that year. That compares with 48 percent who see the expansion running through at least 2020. Economists were most likely to cite trade protectionism as a top risk to expansion, followed by a substantial stock-market decline and higher interest rates.

The effects on the economy from the tax plan, pushed by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans, has been a contentious topic. Republicans have said that the additional growth unleashed by the legislation means the cuts pay for themselves by increasing revenues; many economists disagree. The White House says the package will trigger an investment boom by companies that will lift growth to a sustained 3 percent pace and make up for the loss of tax revenue from lower rates.

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