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FDIC 2005 Economic Outlook
The U.S. Consumer: Hero or Has-Been?
Friday, November 19, 2004
FDIC Board Room
550 17 th Street, N.W.
Washington , D.C. 20429
The U.S. consumer has played a unique role in the economy over the last three years. Consumer spending was uncharacteristically robust during and just after the 2001 recession, as low interest rates, soaring home values, and tax cuts allowed households to keep borrowing and buying at a rapid pace. Consumer spending has continued to support the U.S. economic recovery despite the somewhat sluggish recovery in the labor market and relatively slow income growth. During 2004, we've seen rising interest rates and inflation, with energy prices hitting record highs, even as the marginal stimulus of the 2003 tax cut begins to wane. Some are now starting to question whether the consumer will still be able to serve as the economy's primary engine of growth in 2005, a question that forms the basis for our roundtable agenda. The answers will help clarify the future paths of household finances, consumer credit quality and the U.S. economic outlook for the year ahead.
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