Morgan Stanley credits ‘Bidenomics’ in lifting its U.S. economic-growth outlook

The U.S. economy is enjoying ‘a boom in large-scale infrastructure [and] rebounding domestic business investment led by manufacturing.’

— Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist, Morgan Stanley

At least one major investment bank has bought into Bidenomics.

President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has seeped into the domestic economy, “driving a boom in large-scale infrastructure,” wrote Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist for Morgan Stanley, in a research note out late this week. Plus, she wrote, “manufacturing construction has shown broad strength.”

As a result Morgan Stanley now projects 1.9% economic expansion in the first half of this year. That’s nearly four times the bank’s previous 0.5% forecast for growth in gross domestic product in the first half of 2023.

Infrastructure spending signed into law in 2021 marked an early legislative win for a president handed only a slim majority in Congress. It was followed up by another legislative banner for the incumbent: the Inflation Reduction Act, a climate-change- and healthcare-focused spending bill signed into law about a year ago. Many of the incentives in the laws are tied to domestic manufacturing and require U.S. hiring, sometimes at the expense of less-expensive or readily available goods from abroad.

As a result of these economic lifts, the Morgan Stanley

analysts more than doubled their original estimate for GDP growth in the fourth quarter, to 1.3% from 0.6%. And they nudged up their forecast for GDP in 2024 by a tenth of a percentage point, to 1.4%.

“The narrative behind the numbers tells the story of industrial strength in the U.S,” Zentner wrote.

Read: Are we still going to have a recession? Maybe next year.

The White House has run with the theme of U.S. bricks-and-mortar economic growth in recent weeks, increasingly leveraged by the president and his acolytes under the banner of Bidenomics. It’s a phrase originally used by Republicans to take a shot at the president, who has been saddled with high inflation and consequently rising interest rates in his first term.

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For now, the Biden team has co-opted the term as a badge of honor as Biden has tried to tap into economic performance during recent road appearances. That included a speech to a union crowd at a shipyard in Philadelphia this past week.

Bidenomics and Morgan Stanley forecasts aside, wider polling shows that some Americans, likely feeling the lingering sting of inflation, aren’t yet convinced.

A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed only 3 in 10 Americans feel the country is doing a better job recovering economically than the rest of the world since the COVID-19 pandemic, though some data, particularly reports showing a receding inflation rate, indicate it is. Respondents were split on Biden’s handling of jobs and unemployment, with 47% approving and 48% disapproving of his performance. 

The latest CNBC All-America Economic Survey, released Thursday, found that just 37% of respondents approved of Biden’s handling of the economy, while 58% disapproved. Some 20% of Americans agreed that the economy was excellent or good, while 79% said it was just fair or poor, CNBC’s poll found.

Also see: Biden would beat Trump even if a third-party candidate joins White House race: Monmouth poll

Republicans looking to challenge Biden and the Democrats in 2024 care less about Wall Street’s forecasts and more about Main Street’s polling, it would seem.

“Bidenomics is about blind faith in government spending and regulation,” Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a statement Friday. “It’s an economic disaster where government causes decades-high inflation, high gas prices
lower paychecks and crippling uncertainty that leaves America worse off.”

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