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Can anyone help me understand how expected economic growth is usually measured? I've read several papers that talk about using breakeven inflation as a proxy for expected inflation, and then the authors will calculate the sensitivity of various assets to the change in unexpected inflation. I've seen the paper from Cam Harvey on the shape of the yield curve as a proxy for market expectations regarding economic recessions, but I'm curious as to how academics and market practitioners come up with a proxy for the expected growth rate of the economy.

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When you ask for "expected economic growth" you need to be specific for what you are asking for. I assume you mean GDP. But what "economic growth" is depends on who you are talking to.

In my business (real estate finance, more specifically class A multifamily and industrial in 1st tier cities) economic growth has been spectacular in the past two years with the continually falling interest rates and foreign money flowing into the first tier cities in the last year our little world is doing very well.

On to your question: You most certainly can use yield curve to predict economic growth, most specifically a common tool is the spread between the 10 yr and the 3 month treasury. The steeper the curve the more indication of strong growth, and an inverted curve (short term notes with higher rates than long term) indicate an impending recession. The inverted curve has presented itself about a year before the last several recessions.

Re-reading your question, I don’t think i answered it properly. The above gives a sense of general economic direction but does not predict an actually "measurement" or number. Not to cop out but this is far more difficult and economists who dig through mountains of data (certainly not just one indicator or proxy) get it wrong just one quarter out.

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