Economic Trends/Outlook in the United States

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Economic Overview

The United States is the largest and most powerful economy in the world. Nevertheless, it was the first to suffer from the consequences of the financial crisis. The country experienced the words recession since the crisis of the 1930s, the economy shrinking by 2.6% in 2009. Thanks to the government’s large-scale budget and monetary stimulus plan, which among others stimulated household consumption, the economy has recovered in 2010, with a growth of 2.6%. The economy is expected to continue to grow slowly in 2011.

In the recent years and following the raise in expenditure in the defense field, the financial crisis and the limited budgetary solutions offered by the government, the federal finances are in deficit. The government has therefore set itself the goal of lowering the deficit by more than 10% in 2010, to 3% in 2015. After having built their growth based on internal consumption for a long time, the American administration has recently indicated its willingness to switch to a model where growth would be coming from exports. The aim is to double exports in five years. Finally, a new stimulus plan has been announced, planning to renew and develop transport infrastructure, as well as introduce tax deductions for businesses.

Following the crisis, the unemployment benefits shows a strong upward trend, exceeding 9% at the beginning of 2010 and thus reaching the highest numbers in the last 25 years. In addition, since the 1980s we see a growth in social inequality.

Main Indicators 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
GDP (billions USD) 14,119.05 14,657.80e 15,227.07e 15,880.21e 16,522.06e
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -2.6 2.8e 2.8e 2.9e 2.7e
GDP per Capita (USD) 45,934 47,284e 48,666e 50,273e 51,810e
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -6.8e -7.5e -8.1e -5.7e -4.4e
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 84.6e 91.6e 99.5e 102.9e 105.6e
Inflation Rate (%) -0.3 1.6e 2.2e 1.6e 1.4e
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 9.3 9.6e 8.5e 7.8e 7.0e
Current Account (billions USD) -418.00e -487.23e -523.86e -571.27e -
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.9e -3.3e -3.4e -3.6e -

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database

Note: (e) Estimated Data


Main Sectors of Industry

The American agricultural sector is without a doubt, the biggest in the world. It is characterized by high productivity and by the use of modern technologies. The United States is one of the major producers of corn, soya, beef and cotton.  California alone produces more than 12% of the country's total agricultural production.  Nevertheless, agriculture only accounts for 1% of the American GNP.

The United States is a very industrialized country. The industrial sector contributes almost a quarter of the GDP and includes a large variety of activities. The most significant are the manufacturing of electric and electronic machinery, chemical products, industrial machinery, the food industry and automobile sectors. It is also the world leader in aerospace and pharmaceutical industries. The abandunce of natural resouces has turned the United States into a leader in the production of several minerals and allows it to maintain a diversified production. It  is thus the biggest world producer of liquid natural gas, aluminum, electricity and nuclear energy. It is the third oil producer in the world.

The American economy is essentially based on services. The tertiary sector accounts for more than three-fourths of the GDP and of the workforce.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.4 20.6 78.0
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.2 21.3 77.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 9.1 -2.9 0.6

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

For more detailed background on Industries in the United States, click here.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Mostly free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2011 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the Country Risk Analysis Provided By Ducroire.


Sources of General Economic Information

Federal Trade Commission, US customs, Department of State
US Department of Labor
US Department of Agriculture
International Trade Administration
Statistical Office
US Census Bureau
Central Bank
The Federal Reserve
Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange- Euronext
American Stock Exchange
Philadelphia Stock Exchange
Boston Stock Exchange
Chicago Stock Exchange
Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Chicago Board Options Exchange
Minneapolis Grain Exchange
Kansas City Board of Trade
Other Useful Resources
US bureau of Economic Analysis
Main Online Newspapers
New York Times
Washington Post
USA Today
Wall Street Journal
Philadelphia Online
Los Angleles Times
Chicago Tribune
The San Francisco Chronicle
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Boston Globe
Miami Herald
Cincinnati Enquirer
Economic Portals
National Bureau of Economic Research
Bureau of census
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Economic Statistics

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