U.S. Economy Is Doing Well, but Few Think It Will Last

January 14, 2019, 12:37 PM UTC

Americans feel pretty confident about where the economy is right now, but they have no idea where it’s going.

That’s the trend Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen pointed out onstage at the National Retail Federation trade show in New York City. The head of America’s biggest grocery chain said if you ask Americans questions about the present, they feel confident, but “if you change the question a little to ‘where do you think things are going,’ there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

That sense of uncertainty might be amplified by the government shutdown. The Wall Street Journal reports that the shutdown is putting a damper on economic growth at the micro and macro levels. The shutdown is hitting small businesses that need small business loans processed, government approval to sell food and alcohol, and, naturally, customers who have paychecks to spend.

The government shutdown and broader fears of a slowdown are also hitting the stock market this week. The Dow opened down 225 points on Monday, which CNBC attributed to the partial government shutdown and concerns about the Chinese economy.

Not even economists are immune from the generalized sense of malaise in the medium-term future. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal said there was a 25% chance of a recession in the next year, on average. That’s up from an average prediction of a 13% chance last year. Even so, few economists were able to “identify a specific trigger” for a forthcoming recession.