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2024 Economic Outlook: A Soft Landing on the Horizon

One small step.
H. Michael Burgett
Contributing Writer

A recent report from Goldman Sachs Research presents an optimistic outlook for the US economy, predicting a ‘soft landing’ despite previous recession fears. The forecast for 2024 suggests a 2.1% expansion in US GDP, surpassing the consensus of 1% by economists.

This projection is underpinned by a belief in the low probability of a US recession, estimated at just 15% over the next 12 months.

Key Insights

Inflation and Labor Market Dynamics: The US economy has managed to navigate through high inflation and labor market overheating. The conditions for inflation to return to target levels are now in place, with the most challenging aspects of monetary and fiscal tightening behind us.

Balancing Inflation and Unemployment: Contrary to expectations, US inflation has fallen without a significant spike in unemployment. This has been attributed to a recovery in labor supply, fading transitory influences on wages and prices, and self-correcting high prices, such as in the housing market.

Labor Market Trends: The labor market has shown resilience, with the unemployment rate remaining stable and other indicators of labor market tightness returning to near pre-pandemic levels. This suggests that further below-potential growth may not be necessary to control inflation.

Federal Reserve’s Policy Outlook: With inflation declining and the job market remaining strong, it is forecasted that the Federal Reserve will maintain steady rates until a rate cut in the last quarter of 2024. This would be followed by a gradual reduction in the fed funds rate to 3.5-3.75% by the second quarter of 2026.

Economic Sectors in Focus

Consumer Spending: Expected to remain robust, supported by a near 3% growth in real disposable income, driven by job gains and wage growth.

Business Investment: Predicted to slow down, with growth primarily driven by subsidies from the CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act. However, investment in artificial intelligence and reduced recessionary fears could bolster confidence.

Housing Market: Existing home sales may be weak due to high mortgage rates, but residential investment is expected to be stable with modest home price growth.

Government Spending: Federal government spending is forecasted to be flat, while state and local spending might see a slight increase.

Trade: A recovery in foreign economic growth is anticipated to boost US exports, contributing to a narrowing trade deficit and positively impacting GDP growth.

Implications for CIOs

With the majority of technology leaders expecting an increase in their 2024 tech budgets as reported previously in The National CIO Review, the pressure will be on to achieve sustainable results in a recovering economy. Some key areas of opportunity and challenge:

Strategic IT Investment: The stable economy provides a conducive environment for strategic IT investments, especially in emerging technologies like AI.

Talent Management: With a tight labor market, CIOs must focus on attracting and retaining top tech talent, emphasizing on creating compelling work environments.

Cybersecurity Focus: As businesses expand digitally, CIOs need to prioritize robust cybersecurity measures to protect organizational assets and data.

Adaptability: CIOs should remain adaptable, preparing for potential future economic shifts and maintaining flexible IT infrastructures.

The Wrap

The US economy appears poised for a stable and positive trajectory in 2024, with key indicators suggesting a balance between growth, inflation control, and labor market stability. For CIOs, this period presents an opportunity to align IT strategies with evolving business goals, drive digital transformation, and prepare for future challenges.

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