This week is summer's sweet spot — the peak time for pool parties, fresh-picked berries and cool drinks. But for economists, it may feel more like Christmas — so much to unwrap!
Each day will bring new decisions and reports that could have a big impact on the nation's economy. So economists, investors and workers will have plenty to ponder. Here's what's happening this week:
- Tuesday and Wednesday: The Federal Reserve Board's policymakers are meeting over two days this week to chew over economic data and decide whether to continue the current policies that restrain interest rates. They will announce their decision at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday.
- Wednesday : At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department will release its first estimate of GDP growth for the second quarter. This is a big deal because the first quarter was dismal — with the economy actually shrinking. Most economists believe the second quarter will show a healthy bounce back, with GDP expanding at about 3 percent.
- Thursday: At 3 p.m. ET, the USDA will report on farm prices. Earlier this year, a lot of prices shot up for food — especially meat. High grocery prices can hit consumers hard. So economists will be watching for signs of what's to come for consumers when they head to the grocery store this fall.
- Friday: The Labor Department will release its July jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET. This report is always a big deal because a healthy labor market is the key to economic growth. In recent months, jobs have been growing rapidly. Did the pace continue in July?
In addition, economists will be watching for lots of wild cards this week. For example, Congress will be finishing up some work before starting its August recess. Lawmakers could make decisions involving issues with big economic impacts, such as on immigration and federal highway spending.
The stock market may be in for a wacky week with so much key economic data hitting, along with a surge of corporate earnings reports.
And there's no shortage of geopolitical tension. Any number of developments in Gaza, Libya or Ukraine could upset economic expectations.
So if ever there was a week to pay attention to economic reports, this is it. Just keep a tall, cool drink handy. You may need it.