By Michael Heath and Linus Chua December 20, 2021

  •  Ongoing inflation concerns make it unlikely the bill will pass
  •  Outcome would introduce some risk to March FOMC hike forecast

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth after Senator Joe Manchin rejected the Biden administration’s roughly $2 trillion tax-and-spend program, leaving Democrats with few options for reviving the economic agenda.

Goldman said in a research note Sunday that the likely failure of the Build Back Better legislation had prompted it to lower its real gross domestic product forecasts in 2022 to:

  • 2% in the first quarter from 3% previously
  • 3% in the second quarter versus. 3.5% before; and
  • 2.75% in the third quarter from 3% prior

“We recently put the probability of a modified version of the BBB legislation passing at slightly better than even but, in light of Manchin’s comments, the odds have clearly declined and we will remove the assumption from our forecast,” Goldman economists led by Jan Hatzius said. 

Manchin’s announcement caught the White House off guard, following weeks of negotiations between President Joe Biden and the West Virginia Democrat and just a day after the Senate adjourned for the holidays. 

The administration now must determine whether it can salvage some of the tax-and-spending bill to address Manchin’s demands while maintaining the support of the rest of the Democratic caucus.

Goldman said its forecast for headline CPI to reach as high as 7% in the next few months before easing means the inflation concerns Manchin and others had expressed are likely to persist, making passage more difficult. It said the omicron variant is also likely to shift political attention back to virus-related issues and away from long-term reforms.

In terms of monetary policy, it said most Federal Reserve officials likely expected the BBB Act or something like it to become law, adding that a failure to pass it “would introduce some risk” to Goldman’s expectation the FOMC will deliver the first interest-rate hike in March.

The note added there “is still a good chance” that Congress enacts a much smaller set of fiscal proposals dealing with manufacturing incentives and supply chain issues.

“There is also still a chance that Congress retroactively extends the expanded child tax credit, with some modifications, though we think the odds of this occurring are less than even,” Goldman said.

S&P 500 futures dropped as much as 0.9% on Monday, while yields on 10-year Treasuries fell three basis points as risk-off sentiment swept markets. Asian stocks dropped.

— With assistance by Sunil Jagtiani