WASHINGTON – How badly did the U.S. economy fare during the first three months of the year? Worse than any of the other high-income economies in the Group of 7 nations.
Battered by a brutal winter, the economy shrank at an estimated 1 per cent annual pace from January through March — and the government will likely downgrade that figure Wednesday.
Here’s a best-to-worst roundup of first-quarter economic growth for the G-7 countries plus China:
A 6.7 per cent annual gain from January through March, thanks to “Abenomics” — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program of aggressive government spending and easy-money policies from the Bank of Japan. Still, economists doubt that the breakneck pace is sustainable, especially after Japan raised its sales tax in April.
A 5.7 per cent annual increase from January through March, well below China’s double-digit growth of a few years ago. The slowdown in part reflects a government policy to shift away from growth dependent on exports and investments in factories, real estate and infrastructure and toward slower, steadier growth based on spending by Chinese consumers.
A 3.3 per cent annual rise in the first three months of the year on strong consumer spending and business investment.
A 3.3 per cent annual gain, boosted by a recovery in construction spending.
A 1.2 per cent annual increase, the slowest growth since the end of 2012, on weaker business investment and government cutbacks.
A 0.1 per cent annual gain, with consumer spending and business investment slowing.
A 0.5 per cent annual drop as Italian consumers and businesses continued to struggle in the wake of a recession in the eurozone — the 18 countries that use the euro currency.
A 1 per cent annual decline as a frigid and icy winter kept consumers indoors and businesses let their inventories dwindle.
Sources: FactSet, IHS Global Insight, U.S. Commerce Department.