Will winter storms derail the economic recovery?

This winter is on track to be the coldest in decades. Could higher heating bills and reduced shopping hurt economic growth? 

The massive Midwest snowstorm drove Chicago's Lake Shore Drive to a standstill.
(Image credit: Getty)

Retailers, airlines, automakers, and businesses of all stripes are reeling from the massive storm battering much of the U.S., and financial analysts are already predicting the unusually harsh winter will lower economic growth this quarter. The fears were alleviated a bit by news that major retailers had a better-than-expected January, with shoppers apparently shrugging off the snow. But as this week's storms show, the winter isn't over. Will the freezing storms kill the economic green shoots?

The economy is going to feel this: Forecasters say "this winter is going to be brutal — perhaps the worst in a century," says Ash Bennington in CNBC. That means higher bills for already struggling households, less traffic for still-recovering retailers, and maybe even an impact on crops and food prices. "Consistently terrible weather, of course, is bad for the economy," and AccuWeather predicts years more of these colder-than-normal winters.

"Winter forecast: Terrifying weather!"

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The recovery is hotter than the freeze: "Some economic reports in January and February may get clipped by the severe weather," says John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics, as quoted in Bloomberg. But the "underlying growth momentum is quite strong," with consumer confidence, manufacturing, and other indicators on the upswing, so the economy should "bounce back from any such effects as soon as the winter storms are behind us — whenever that might be."

"Bad weather a temporary hitch in U.S. recovery, economists say"

It's not just America we have to worry about: The "dire" weather battering the world, and the global economy, is "the story everyone wants to ignore," says Gregory White in Business Insider. But the cyclones and floods ravaging Australia, droughts in China and the U.S. Midwest, devastating wildfires in Russia, and massive snowstorms in the U.S. and Europe are already "hitting hiring and growth in key economies," and they will have a "real impact" on the fragile recovery.

"10 ways weather is wreaking havoc on the global economy"

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