Moody’s co-founder and chief economist Mark Zandi took the virtual stage during the virtual NACDS Total Store Expo’s first day Business Program Monday, offering a forecast of the economy and the potential risks still posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, Zandi said he's optimistic about the economy's near-term prospects over the next 18 to 24 months.
"We’ve made a lot of progress. The economy has come back. We’re recovered 16 million of the jobs we lost," he said, noting jobs in leisure, hospitality, restaurant, bars, transportation, and personal services are still down. “We still have a way to go. We are still 5 million down. We’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to get to 3.5% unemployment."
Zandi said he expects the economy to continue to improve, assuming that we’ve achieved something consistent with herd immunity. “I’m assuming in this baseline outlook that the Delta variant does not become an overwhelming problem, that it doesn’t spread beyond parts of the country where vaccination rates are low and derail the economic recovery."