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7 June. 2016 Atlanta Fed Wage Tracker Hits Seven-Year High - Does it Matter? (Publication Centre)

The headline hourly earnings data for May were dull, showing the year-over-year rate unchanged at 2.5%. That's up from 2.1% in the year to May 2015, but it's not an alarming rate of increase. But the Atlanta Fed's median hourly earnings data, which track the wages of individuals from year-to-year, show wages up 3.4% year-over-year, the fastest rate of increase since February 2009.

6 Apr. 2016 Productivity Slowdowns Have Happened Before, and Reversed (Publication Centre)

With only three weeks to go until the release of the initial official estimate of first quarter GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow measure shows growth at just 0.4%. Our own estimate, which includes our subjective forecasts for the missing data--the Atlanta Fed's measure is entirely model-based--is a bit higher, at 1%, and both measures could easily be revised significantly.

7 February 2017 Q1 Growth to Disappoint, Again? (Publication Centre)

The obvious answer to the question posed in our title is that it's far too early to tell what will happen to first quarter growth. More than half the quarter hasn't even happened yet, and data for January are still extremely patchy, with no official reports on retail sales, industrial production, housing, capex, inventories or international trade yet available. For what it's worth, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model signals growth of 3.4%, though we note that it substantially overstated the first estimate of growth in the fourth quarter.

26 January 2017 Will Today's Data Shift Fourth Quarter GDP Growth Forecasts? (Publication Centre)

Three of today's economic reports, all for December, could move the needle on fourth quarter GDP growth. Ahead of the data, we're looking for growth of 1.8%, a bit below the consensus, 2.2%, and significantly weaker than the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model, which projects 2.8%.

8 June 2018 Q2 Growth is Looking Very Strong, but Inventories Set to Disappoint? (Publication Centre)

The latest iteration of the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model of second quarter GDP growth shows the economy expanding at a 4.5% annualized rate.

18 August. 2016 What are the Chances of 4%-plus Growth in the Third Quarter? (Publication Centre)

The latest model-based third quarter GDP forecast from the Atlanta Fed is 3.6%, well above the 2.5% consensus forecast reported by Bloomberg. We are profoundly skeptical of so-called "tracking models" of GDP growth, because they are based mostly on forecasts and assumptions until very close to the actual GDP release.

18 December 2018 The Plunge in Oil Prices Injects Uncertainty into Q4 GDP Growth (Publication Centre)

In the wake of last week's strong core retail sales numbers for November, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model for fourth quarter GDP growth shot up to 3.0% from 2.4%.

21 November. 2016 The Inflation Threat from Wages is Rising (Publication Centre)

Last week, the Atlanta Fed updated its median hourly earnings series with new October data, showing wage growth accelerating to an eight-year high of 3.9%. That's a full percentage point higher than the increase in this measure of wages in the year to October 2015, and it follows a spring and summer during which wage growth appeared to be topping-out at just under 3½%.

27 June 2019 Orders, Trade and Inventory Data Suggest Q2 Growth Headed for 21⁄4% (Publication Centre)

Yesterday's raft of data had no net impact on our forecast for second quarter GDP growth, which we still think will be about 21⁄4%.

27 September 2017 Yellen is Following the Tightening Labor Market, it's Telling her to Hike (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen's speech in Cleveland yesterday elaborated on the key themes from last week's FOMC meeting.

28 August 2017 Expect a Correction in the July Trade Data, but Trends are Favorable (Publication Centre)

Net foreign trade made a positive contribution of 0.2 percentage points to GDP growth in the second quarter, matching the Q1 performance.

26 October 2018 Inventories and Consumption Drove up Q3 Growth Q4 will be Slower (Publication Centre)

We have tweaked our third quarter GDP forecast in the wake of the September advance international trade and inventory data; we now expect today's first estimate to show that the economy expanded at a 4.0% annualized rate.

29 Jan. 2016 Will Inventories and Government Hold Q4 GDP Close to Zero? (Publication Centre)

We expect to learn today that the economy barely grew at all in the fourth quarter. At least, that's what we think the first estimate of growth, due today, will show. This number will then be revised twice over the next couple of months, then again when revisions for the past three years are released in July. Thereafter, the numbers are subject to further annual revisions indefinitely.

25 June 2018 Imports Still Falling as the Hurricane Surge Continues to Unwind? (Publication Centre)

The latest data from container ports around the country are consistent with our view that imports are still correcting after the surge late last year, triggered by the hurricanes.

26 May 2017 First Quarter Growth Set to be Revised up, but Data are Very Flawed (Publication Centre)

We didn't believe the first estimate of Q1 GDP growth, 0.7%, and we won't believe today's second estimate, either. The data are riddled with distortions, most notably the long-standing problem of residual seasonality, which depressed the number by about one percentage point.

25 March 2019 The Fundamentals are at Odds with the Curve, no Recession Near (Publication Centre)

The commentariat was very excited Friday by the inversion of the curve, with three-year yields dipping to 2.24% while three-month bills yield 2.45%.

6 March 2018 Inventories Rebounding in Q1 (Publication Centre)

The wide spread in first quarter GDP growth "trackers"--which at this point are more model and assumption than actual data--is indicative of the uncertainty surrounding the international trade and inventory components.

8 January 2018 The Labor Market is Still Tightening, Don't Fret over December Payrolls (Publication Centre)

We aren't perturbed by the undershoot in December payrolls, relative both to the October and November numbers and all the leading indicators.

9 January 2018 Small Business Owners are Happy, so Why are Capex Plans Soft? (Publication Centre)

We already know that the month-to-month movements in the key labor market components of the December NFIB small business survey were mixed; the data were released last week, ahead the official employment report, as usual.

9 May 2018 Faster Productivity Growth and Higher Inflation will Lift Wage Gains (Publication Centre)

We just can't get away from the deeply vexed question of wages; specifically, why the rate of growth of nominal hourly earnings has risen only to just over 2.5%, even though the historical relationship between wage gains and the tightness of the labor market points to increases of 4%-plus.

8 August 2018 Chainstore Sales Growth is Strong, but the Tax Cuts aren't Responsible (Publication Centre)

The release yesterday of the weekly Redbook chainstore sales report for the week ended Saturday August 4 means that we now have a complete picture of July sales.

25 January 2018 Rising Oil Prices Will Reduce Q4 Real Inventories, but by How Much? (Publication Centre)

Today's advance inventory and international trade data for December could change our Q4 GDP forecast significantly.

5 January 2018 Robust December Jobs, Strong AHE and a New Low for Unemployment? (Publication Centre)

In the wake of yesterday's ADP report, which showed private payrolls up 250K in December, we have revised our forecast for today's official headline number up to 240K from 210K.

5 July. 2016 Can We be Sure The Labor Market is Tight Enough to Boost Wage Gains? (Publication Centre)

We have argued consistently for some time that the next year will bring a clear acceleration in U.S. wage growth, because the unemployment rate has fallen below the Nairu and a host of business survey indicators point to clear upward wage pressures. Nominal wage growth has been constrained, in our view, by the unexpected decline in core inflation from 2012 through early 2015, which boosted real wage growth and, hence, eased the pressure from employees for bigger nominal raises.

5 September 2018 The Surge in August's ISM is Welcome but won't be Repeated (Publication Centre)

August's 14-year high in the ISM manufacturing index, reported yesterday, clearly is a noteworthy event from a numerology perspective, but we doubt it marks the start of a renewed upward trend.

29 January 2018 The Dollar is not yet an Inflation Threat, but it Likely Hasn't Bottomed (Publication Centre)

We learned last week that the U.S. no longer has a coherent dollar policy.

21 December 2017 Fourth Quarter GDP Heading for 3%. Trade, Inventories will be Drags (Publication Centre)

We see no compelling reason to expect a significant revision to the third quarter GDP numbers today, so our base case is that the second estimate, 3.3%, will still stand.

14 July. 2016 Faster Pay Gains for Job-Switchers Forcing Employers to Pay More (Publication Centre)

The details of the substantial pay raises being offered to some 18K JP Morgan employees over the next three years are much less important than the signal sent by the company's response to the tightening labor market. In an economy with 144M people on payrolls, hefty raises for JP Morgan employees won't move the needle in the hourly earnings data.

24 June 2019 Capex and Stock Market Fears Explain the Fed's Itchy Trigger-Finger (Publication Centre)

The apparent softness of business capex is worrying the Fed.

14 December 2018 Look Behind the Headlines for the Real Retail and Industrial Stories (Publication Centre)

We argued earlier this week that the data on the consumer economy are likely to be rather stronger than the industrial numbers.

13 December. 2016 Today's NFIB Labor Data are not New, but they are Important (Publication Centre)

The falling unemployment rate and the threat it poses to the inflation outlook mean that the labor market numbers in the NFIB small business survey attract more attention than the other data in the report.

1 May 2019 What Will Chair Powell say About Strong Q1 Growth and Low Inflation (Publication Centre)

The FOMC meeting today will be a non-event from a policy perspective but we are very curious to see what both the written statement and the Chair will have to say about the unexpected strength of the economy in the first quarter.

10 October 2018 Hurricane Michael Means Another "Soft" Payroll Number (Publication Centre)

Our hopes of a hefty rebound in payrolls in October, following the hurricane-hit September number, have been dashed by the imminent landfall of Hurricane Michael in Florida panhandle.

19 August. 2016 Dear Fed, Please Don't Increase the Inflation Target. Thanks. (Publication Centre)

Everyone heard San Francisco Fed president Williams's suggestion Monday that central banks could raise their inflation targets in response to the sustained slow growth and lower-than-expected inflation of recent years. It's not clear, though, that markets grasped the scale of the increase he thinks might be appropriate.

18 November. 2016 Yellen Still Thinks Inflation Will Hit the Target in Two Years. Hmm. (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen's Testimony yesterday pretended the election hadn't happened, and ignored the incoming administration's plans for a huge fiscal stimulus. She did address the issue under questioning, though, pointing out that fiscal stimulus could have inflationary consequences and that the Fed will have to factor-in to its decisions whatever Congress decides to do to taxes and spending.

2 July 2018 Construction Activity is Accelerating, it's not Just Hurricane Repairs (Publication Centre)

Perhaps the single strongest U.S. economic data series in recent months has been construction spending, which has risen by more than 1%, month-to-month, in four of the past five months.

23 Nov. 2015 How to Scare Yourself Over the U.S. Inflation Outlook (Publication Centre)

Should you be feeling in the mood to panic over inflation risks--or more positively, benefit from the markets' underpricing of inflation risks--consider the following scenario. First, assume that the uptick in wages reported in October really does mark the start of the long-awaited sustained acceleration promised by a 5% unemployment rate and employers' difficulty in finding people to hire. Second, assume that the rental property market remains extremely tight. Third, assume that the abrupt upturn in medical costs in the October CPI is a harbinger o f things to come. And finally, assume that the Fed hawks are right in their view that the initial increase in interest rates will--to quote the September FOMC minutes--"...spur, rather than restrain economic activity". Under these conditions, what happens to inflation?

21 November 2017 Q4 Growth Shaping up Well, but Holiday Spending Strength is Key (Publication Centre)

It's much too soon to have a very firm view on fourth quarter GDP growth, not least because almost half the quarter hasn't happened yet.

22 May 2019 The MPC Won't Be "Indifferent" if Sterling Falls Further (Publication Centre)

On a trade-weighted basis, sterling has dropped by only 1.5% since the start of the month, but it is easy to envisage circumstances in which it would fall significantly further.

21 August 2017 Growth Momentum and Slow Hikes Means no Recession Until 2019 (Publication Centre)

We have had something of a rethink about the likely timing of the coming cyclical downturn. Previously, we thought the economy would start to slow markedly in the middle of next year, with a mild recession--two quarters of modest declines in GDP-- beginning in the fourth quarter.

20 September. 2016 Homebuilders Need to Catch up to Rising Sales - Expect a Q4 Surge (Publication Centre)

The information available to date--which is still very incomplete--suggests that new housing construction will decline in the third quarter. This would be the second straight decline, following the 6.1% drop in Q2. We aren't expecting such a large fall in the third quarter, but it is nonetheless curious that housing investment--construction, in other words--is falling at a time when new home sales have risen sharply.

22 Apr. 2016 Jobs Data Suggest--But Don't Guarantee Faster Q2 Growth (Publication Centre)

Looking back at the numbers over the past few weeks, it is pretty clear that the gap between the strong payroll reports and the activity data widened to a chasm in the first quarter. We now expect GDP growth of about zero--the latest Atlanta Fed estimate is +0.3% and the New York Fed's new model points to 0.8%--but payrolls rose at an annualized 1.9% rate.

22 May 2019 How Much Attention is the Fed Paying to the Trimmed Mean PCE (Publication Centre)

Fed policymakers surprised no one with their May 1 statement, which acknowledged the surprisingly "solid " Q1 economic growth--at the time of the March 19-to-20 meeting, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model suggested Q1 growth would be just 0.6%--but stuck to its view that low inflation means the FOMC can be "patient".

29 June. 2016 Second Quarter GDP Growth Could Easily Breach 3% (Publication Centre)

The Atlanta Fed's GDP Now estimate for second quarter GDP growth will be revised today, in light of the data released over the past few days. We aren't expecting a big change from the June 24 estimate, 2.6%, because most of the recent data don't capture the most volatile components of growth, including inventories and government spending. The key driver of quarterly swings in the government component is state and local construction, but at this point we have data only for April; those numbers were weak.

23 May 2017 Consumers' Spending on Goods Appears to be Rebounding (Publication Centre)

The latest iteration of the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model puts second quarter GDP growth at 4.1%. Assuming a modest upward revision to growth in the first quarter -- the data will be released Friday -- that would mean average growth of 2.5% in the first half, in line with our forecast for the year as a whole, and rather better than the 1.6% growth recorded in 2016.

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