By Howard Schneider
WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) – A year from now the United States may have emerged from the economic hole dug during the pandemic with growth smartly above its previous trend and output largely recovered.
Or it may be struggling to patch a remaining $2 trillion gash to gross domestic product, with growth stuck in low gear, an ongoing health crisis, and chronic joblessness.
The guessing game that U.S. economic forecasting has become has produced a massive split in predictions as economists from the Federal Reserve to the top Wall Street firms take a stab at unknowables like the path of the pandemic and the ability of a fractured Congress to compromise on spending.
It has given policymakers little solid to plan around and left the Fed reluctant to announce new steps to support the economy until it’s clearer what’s needed and for how long.