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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economists at Goldman Sachs raised their GDP growth expectations for the U.S. economy to 8% for 2021 in a note to clients on Sunday night.

Why it matters: If Goldman's forecast is correct, it would mark the largest economic expansion for the U.S. in generations.

  • Not only would 8% annual growth denote a stupendous turnaround from the coronavirus pandemic, it would significantly outpace the firm's growth expectations for the U.S. from as recently as late 2020.

What they're saying: "We have raised our GDP forecast to reflect the latest fiscal policy news and now expect 8% growth in 2021 (Q4/Q4) and an unemployment rate of 4% at end-2021 — the lowest among consensus forecasts—that falls to 3.5% in 2022 and 3.2% in 2023," Goldman said in the note.

  • "But we expect inflation dynamics to mirror those last cycle, and therefore expect this forecast to translate to only 2.1% core PCE inflation in 2023."

Between the lines: Goldman has been exceptionally bullish on the prospects for U.S. growth all year, far outpacing most other Wall Street banks' expectations.

  • The average growth expectation among Wall Street analysts is 4.7%, according to FactSet, and was 3.9% as recently as November.
  • Further, economic growth of 8% with inflation reaching just 2.1% would be almost unprecedented.

By the numbers: A growth of 8% this year would put U.S. GDP at around $22.6 trillion, marking a full recovery after the economy shrank 4.1% in 2020.

  • U.S. GDP hasn't grown 8% in a year since 1951, when it totaled $356 billion.

Of note: Goldman's metric tracks fourth quarter over fourth quarter growth, rather than year over year.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.