The scale of the slowdown in US growth this year will be starkly underlined by new figures this week raising questions about whether the world’s biggest economy can regain momentum.
Expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to have slowed to 1.8pc in the first quarter of the year from the 3.1pc seen in the final three months of 2010, according to Wall Street economists.
Most point out that a combination of higher oil prices, a particularly harsh winter in the US and the earthquake in Japan all proved unexpected constraints on a quarter that in December was forecast to provide further evidence of a strengthening recovery.
“Things are not looking that good,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas, which is predicting that the US will see growth at 2.5pc this year. “The situation has changed.”
The consensus for US expansion this year among economists on Wall Street has edged down from above 3pc at the start of the year to 2.9pc, matching last year’s figures.
The state of the US economy is important for the rest of the world, not only because of its size, but because America is one of the few developed economies that has chosen to focus on growth rather than tackling the deficit.