Economists' GDP Forecasts: 2.1 In Q3 And 2.0 In Q4

by: Doug Short

One of the big economic announcements in the week ahead will be the Advance Estimate for Q3 GDP, published on Thursday, the 27th, at 8:30 AM EST by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The final number for Q2 GDP was 1.3%. Economists in general are optimistic that Q3 will show an improvement in this broad measure of the economy. According to, the consensus for Q3 is 2.2%, which is a bit more optimistic than's own estimate of 2.0%.

But what sort of distribution of opinions do we find among the economists? Is the range of opinions wide or narrow? Let's review the data in the Wall Street Journal's October survey of economists, which is available in Excel format here. Fifty of the 56 economists solicited for survey responded. The chart below arranges the Q3 GDP forecasts horizontally from low-to-high to give us a clear idea of the distribution of responses and any outliers.

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As the chart suggests, the majority of professionals fall into a fairly narrow range around the 2.1 mean (standard deviation of 0.56).

What do the economists see for Q4? The median and the mean are fractionally lower, but the range is considerably wider with a definite outlier at the bottom and a pair of outliers at the top.

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We'll find out later in the week how close the WSJ survey Q3 GDP consensus is to the Advance Estimate.