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Expand chart
Reproduced from LPL Research; Note: "Other components" includes housing, inventories, trade and government spending; Chart: Axios Visuals

The narrative of the U.S. economy lately has been strong consumer spending as the cornerstone of growth, offsetting lackluster business investment.

Driving the news: Economists pared down estimates for Q4 GDP — prompted by worse-than-expected economic data on Friday. The downgrades would have been worse, if not for retail sales figures that pointed to a solid, but slightly more cautious, consumer.

What's going on: The New York Fed now predicts the economy will grow just 0.4%, down from its prior forecast of 0.7%. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Fed trimmed its estimate to 0.3% from 1.0%.

  • Goldman Sachs cut its estimate too on Friday, per CNN, though at 1.9% it's far rosier than the regional banks' projections.

What they're saying: "Consumer spending has largely propelled GDP over the past two quarters, countering business spending’s noticeable drag on growth," analysts at LPL Financial write.

The big picture: President Trump's tax cut jolted business investment initially, but it "quickly dwindled," as the New York Times reports. Now spending by corporations on factories and other investments is contributing less to GDP than before Trump took office.

  • "Some conservative economists and business leaders say the effects of the tax cuts were undercut by uncertainty from Mr. Trump’s trade war, which is slowing global growth and prompting companies to freeze projects," the NYT notes.
  • "Other economists say the fizzle is predictable because high tax rates were not holding back investment."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden to stress U.S. does not seek new Cold War in UN speech

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden will use his first address before the UN General Assembly to lay out his vision for an era of "intensive diplomacy" with allies and "vigorous competition" with great powers — without a Cold War with China.

Why it matters: Biden will take the podium in New York on Tuesday with his own international credibility in question after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. His administration also is struggling to build international momentum to fight climate change, the pandemic and rising authoritarianism.

4 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Gen Z breaks into VC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Meagan Loyst joined VC firm Lerer Hippeau, less than two years out of Boston College, she was still living with her parents. She had virtually no online brand presence, and the pandemic made it impossible to build a professional network via in-person meetings.

Why it matters: Loyst wasn't alone. Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or intrinsic understanding) of older partners.