U.S. Budget Gap May Surge to $3.7 Trillion This Year, CBO Says

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(Bloomberg) -- The Congressional Budget Office said the U.S. federal budget deficit may more than triple to a record $3.7 trillion during this fiscal year amid massive stimulus and economic shutdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The shortfall may be $2.1 trillion in the following fiscal year, which ends September 2021, Phillip Swagel, director of the nonpartisan agency, said in a blog post Friday. The preliminary projections assume government spending laws “generally remained unchanged and no significant additional emergency funding was provided.”

The economy is forecast to shrink at a 39.6% annualized rate in the second quarter, which is toward the pessimistic end of private-sector estimates.

At the equivalent of 17.9% of gross domestic product -- up from 4.6% in 2019 -- the projected deficit would be the largest since World War II and almost double the gap during the global financial crisis, reflecting the recent mobilization by lawmakers to provide aid to jobless Americans and struggling businesses.

While the nonpartisan government agency expects the pace of economic growth to surge in the second half of the year, the size of the economy won’t fully recover until at least 2022.

The CBO also sees the unemployment rate soaring to 16% in the third quarter and remaining in the double digits into 2021.

Despite historically large debt increases, investors have plenty of appetite to help the U.S. borrow and see little long-term risk. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note stood at 0.6% on Friday, while the 30-year rate was 1.19%, well below levels a year ago.

“Even with increased federal borrowing, declines in interest rates mean that net interest outlays will decline,” Swagel wrote.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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