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CEO of Bank of America states that U.S. consumers and businesses are now showing caution in spending.

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In 2023, U.S. consumers and businesses have become more cautious about spending due to inflation and higher interest rates, according to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. People are slowing down the rate of purchases for both hard goods and software. Consumer spending has grown by about 3.5% this year, a significant drop from the nearly 10% growth seen in May 2023.

The trend of cautious spending started last summer and is consistent with the low growth environment of the years from 2016 to 2018. Inflation and borrowing costs remain high, making consumers and businesses more cautious in their spending habits. The Federal Reserve began increasing its benchmark rate in March 2022 in an attempt to curb inflation without causing a recession, a move that has influenced consumer behavior and impacted U.S. companies.

Consumers are adjusting to higher prices by looking for deals and changing their shopping habits. For example, food shoppers are visiting more grocery stores in search of savings. Overall spending is being supported by the travel and entertainment sectors, while growth in areas like rent payments has slowed down. It is crucial to keep consumers engaged in the economy, as they play a significant role in driving economic activity.

Small- and medium-sized businesses are also feeling the effects of cautious spending. Business owners are still confident in their overall business outlook but are reducing hiring, equipment purchases, and software investments. Bank of America’s economists predict that it will take until the end of next year for inflation to be brought under control, with the Fed potentially lowering interest rates later this year to stimulate economic growth.

Despite the challenges, Moynihan believes that the U.S. economy will continue to grow at around 2% without falling into a recession. It is important for businesses and consumers to navigate the current economic environment carefully to ensure stability and growth in the future. By being mindful of spending habits and adjusting to changing market conditions, both individuals and companies can weather the current economic challenges.

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