Goldman Sees Hurricanes Curbing U.S. Growth, Only for a Quarter

Irma's Damage Estimates Fall as Storm Weakens

What the hurricanes taketh away, they will more than giveth back to U.S. economic growth, according to economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

As Hurricane Irma touched down in Florida, the firm had already adjusted its forecasts for gross domestic product growth amid a particularly intense U.S. storm season that also saw Texas battered by Hurricane Harvey. 

Goldman cut its estimate for third-quarter growth by 0.8 percentage point, but said it could drop by as much as 1 point. The next three quarters will get a boost from a recovery in consumption, inventories, housing and energy.

“Costly and broad-based natural disasters are associated with particularly large declines in economic activity, but also sharper subsequent rebounds,” the economists, led by Jan Hatzius, said in the Sept. 9 note to clients.

For now, Goldman sees third-quarter growth coming in at 2 percent. The slump will more than be made up by a cumulative 1 percentage-point gain in the fourth quarter and first half of next year. The U.S. should enjoy 2.7 percent growth in the final three months of this year, they estimate.

Read More: Hurricane Fallout Could Cloud Picture for Data-Dependent Fed

In a Sept. 8 note, Bank of America Corp. economists estimated that Hurricane Harvey alone would reduce third-quarter GDP by 0.4 percentage point, to 2.5 percent, and that rebuilding efforts might not add to output until early 2018.

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