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12 February 2019 The Details Matter Much More than the NFIB Survey's Headline Index (Publication Centre)

We're very interested in the detail of today's January NFIB survey; the headline index, not so much.

9 January 2019 Small Firms are Cutting their Capex Plans but Raising Prices (Publication Centre)

The only way to read the December NFIB survey and not be alarmed is to look at the headline, which fell by less than expected, and ignore the details.

11 September 2018 Business Owners Bullish, but Where's the Capex (Publication Centre)

If you had only the NFIB survey of small businesses as your guide to the state of the business sector, you'd be blissfully unaware that the economic commentariat right now is obsessed with the potential hit from the trade tariffs, actual and threatened.

8 August 2017 Watch the NFIB Survey for Clues to Job Growth, Capex and Inflation (Publication Centre)

The NFIB survey of small businesses today will show that July hiring intentions jumped by four points to +19, the highest level since November 2006. The NFIB survey has been running since 1973, and the hiring intentions index has never been sustained above 20.

13 September. 2016 Will the NFIB Survey Point to Stronger Non-mining Capex? (Publication Centre)

The key labor market numbers from today's August NFIB survey of small businesses have already been released--they appear a day or two before the employment report--but they will be reported as though they are news. The headline hiring intentions reading dipped to nine from 12, leaving it near the bottom of the range of the past couple of years.

09 Feb. 2016 NFIB Survey Components are More Important than the Headline (Publication Centre)

The headline number in today's NFIB survey of small businesses probably will look soft. The index is sensitive to the swings in the stock market and we'd be surprised to see no response to the volatility of recent weeks. We also know already that the hiring intentions number dropped by four points, reversing December's gain, because the key labor market numbers are released in advance, the day before the official payroll report.

27 June 2018 Aircraft Set to Depress May Durable Orders, but the Core Story is Better (Publication Centre)

We were wrong about headline durable goods orders in April, because the civilian aircraft component behaved very strangely.

27 January 2017 Q4 Growth Likely Hit by Foreign Trade, Temporarily (Publication Centre)

We expect to learn today that the economy expanded at a 1.7% rate in the fourth quarter. At least, that's our forecast, based on incomplete data, and revisions over time could easily push growth significantly away from this estimate. The inherent unreliability of the GDP numbers, which can be revised forever--literally--explains why the Fed puts so much more emphasis on the labor market data, which are volatile month-to-month but more trustworthy over longer periods and subject to much smaller revisions.

22 February 2018 Jobless Claims Still Under Downward Pressure, Labor is Scarce (Publication Centre)

We have learned over the years not to become too excited in the face of swings in the jobless claims numbers, even when the movement appears to persist for a month or two.

27 November 2017 Economic Growth Set to Rise Next Year, but Pain Will Follow in 2019 (Publication Centre)

We have argued for some time that the revival in nonoil capex represents clear upside risk for GDP growth next year, but it's now time to make this our base case.

21 July 2017 What to Look for from the Fed and the Data Over the next Two Weeks (Publication Centre)

Chair Yellen remains as committed as ever to the idea that the tightening labor market will eventually push up inflation, but the unexpectedly weak core CPI readings for the past four months have complicated the picture in the near-term.

3 November 2017 Expecting Rocketing Payrolls, AHE and Unemployment to Disappoint? (Publication Centre)

We expect a 350K print for October payrolls today. The ADP report was stronger than we expected, suggesting that the post-hurricane rebound will recover more of the ground lost in September than we initially expected.

3 August 2018 Strong Job Growth Likely Continued in June Wage Gains Still Modest (Publication Centre)

We look for a 210K increase in July payrolls. That would be consistent with the message from an array of private sector surveys, as well as the recent trend.

28 February 2019 Expect Underwhelming Q4 GDP Growth Data Today Q1 Likely Worse (Publication Centre)

We expect to learn today that the economy expanded at a 2.1% annualized rate in the fourth quarter, slowing from 3.4% in the third.

27 April 2018 The Likely Q1 GDP Growth Slowdown Probably Didn't Happen (Publication Centre)

The first point to make about today's Q1 GDP growth number is that whatever the BEA publishes, you probably should add 0.9 percentage points.

26 April 2018 March Trade and Durable Orders Data to Boost Q1 GDP Forecasts? (Publication Centre)

The key data today, covering March durable goods orders and international trade in goods, should both beat consensus forecasts.

22 October 2018 Does the Opioid Crisis Explain the Flat Labor Participation Rate (Publication Centre)

The failure of labor market participation to increase as the economy has gathered pace, pushing unemployment down from its 10.0% peak to just 3.7%in September, is one of the biggest macro mysteries in recent years.

22 June 2018 Business Capex is Still Set for Rapid Growth, Trade Spats Permitting (Publication Centre)

A round of recent conversations with investors suggests to us that markets remain quite skeptical of the idea that the recent upturn in capital spending will be sustained.

22 January 2018 The Government Shutdown is Theater, but Could Become a Threat (Publication Centre)

As we reach our Sunday afternoon deadline, no deal has been reached to re-open the federal government.

23 April 2018 Behind the Base-Case Forecast, Risks Abound, in Both Directions (Publication Centre)

For now, we're happy with our base-case forecast that growth will be nearer 3% than 2% this year, and that most of the rise in core inflation this year will come as a result of unfavorable base effects, rather than a serious increase in the month-to-month trend.

25 August 2017 Yellen to Talk on Financial Stability, But Might Refer to Policy too (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen speaks at Jackson Hole today, at 10:00 Eastern. Her topic is billed as "financial stability", but that does not necessarily preclude remarks on the outlook for the economy and policy.

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%.

30 October 2017 A Year from now, the Fed Will be Tightening, with More to Come (Publication Centre)

Cast your mind forward to late October 2018. The Fed is preparing to meet next week. What will the economy look like? The key number is three.

25 October 2017 September Durable Orders are Hard to Call, Thanks to the Hurricanes (Publication Centre)

We have been very encouraged in recent months to see core capital goods orders breaking to the upside, relative to the trend implied by the path of oil prices.

5 April 2019 Payrolls Probably Failed to Return Fully to Trend in March (Publication Centre)

We set out in detail yesterday, here, why we think the official payroll number today will be better than the 129K ADP reading; we look for 160K.

8 March 2018 Labor Demand Remains Strong, Can Supply Keep Up? (Publication Centre)

ADP's report of a 235K increase in private payrolls in February is not definitive evidence of anything, but it is consistent with the idea that labor demand remains very strong.

8 February 2018 Higher-Paid People Drove up January Wages, but Data are Noisy (Publication Centre)

Given the light flow of data this week we want to go back for a closer look at the market-shattering January hourly earnings data.

7 September 2018 Brace for Soft Looking August Payroll and Hourly Earnings Data (Publication Centre)

In the wake of yesterday's ADP report, which showed private payrolls rising by only 163K, we have pulled down our forecast for today's official number to 170K.

8 November. 2016 If Clinton Loses, Most U.S. Forecasting Models Will be Wrong (Publication Centre)

We are not political analysts or psephologists, but we note that each of the nine separate election forecasting models tracked by the New York Times suggests that Hillary Clinton will be president, with odds ranging from 67% to greater than 99%.

8 September. 2016 Claims, JOLTS, and Sales Don't Support the Grim ISM Message (Publication Centre)

We argued yesterday that the steep declines in the ISM surveys in August, both manufacturing and services, likely were one-time events, triggered by a combination of weather events, seasonal adjustment issues and sampling error. These declines don't chime with most other data.

9 May 2017 Chainstore Sales Rebound Points to Robust Q2 Consumption (Publication Centre)

If the Redbook chain store sales survey moved consistently in line with the official core retail sales numbers, it would attract a good deal more attention in the markets. We appreciate that brick-and-mortar retailers are losing market share to online sellers, but the rate at which sales are moving to the web is quite steady and easy to accommodate when comparing the Redbook with the official data.

9 January 2017 Wage Growth is Emerging as a Clear and Present Inflation Threat (Publication Centre)

December's payroll numbers were unexciting, exactly matching the 175K consensus when the 19K upward revision to November is taken into account. Some of the details were a bit odd, though, notably the 63K jump in healthcare jobs, well above the 40K trend, and the 19K drop in temporary workers, compared to the typical 15K monthly gain.

9 December. 2016 The Oil Hit Spread Widely Across the Economy - Now, it's Over (Publication Centre)

A core element of our relatively upbeat macro view before the implementation of fiscal stimulus under the new administration is that the ending of the drag from falling capex in the oil sector will have quite wide, positive implications for growth. The recovery in direct oil sector spending is clear enough; it will just track the rising rig count, as usual.

7 March 2018 ADP Set to Report Strong Payrolls in February, 200K Seems a Good Bet (Publication Centre)

All the signs are that ADP will today report a solid increase in February private payrolls; our forecast is 200K, but if you twist our arms we'd probably say the mild weather last month across most of the country points to a bit of upside risk.

7 January 2019 Job Growth will Slow in Q1, but it Won't Collapse, AHE is Accelerating (Publication Centre)

If our composite index of businesses' hiring plans could speak, it would say: "Told you payrolls were going to go nuts at the end of the year."

2 June 2017 May Payrolls Likely Solid, but Calendar Quirk will hit Wage Data (Publication Centre)

The 253K increase in May private payrolls reported by ADP yesterday was some a bit stronger than our 225K forecast. Plugging the difference between these numbers into our payroll model generates our 210K forecast for today's official number.

31 October. 2016 Q3 Growth Likely Wasn't 2.9%, Headwinds in Q4 (Publication Centre)

We are struggling to make sense of the third quarter GDP numbers. The reality is that the massive surge in soybean exports--which we estimate contributed 0.9 percentage points, gross, to GDP growth--mostly came from falling inventory, because the soybean harvest mostly takes place in Q4.

31 May 2018 Italy isn't Headed for Euro Exit, but Markets Need Clarity to Calm Fears (Publication Centre)

Our Chief Eurozone Economist, Claus Vistesen, is covering the Italian situation in detail in his daily Monitor but it's worth summarizing the key points for U.S. investors here.

5 September 2017 Underlying Trend in Labor Data Unaffected by "Soft" August Report (Publication Centre)

We had hoped that the statistical problems which have plagued the initial estimates of August payrolls in recent years had faded, but Friday's report suggests our judgement was premature.

6 February 2017 Soft January Hourly Earnings Will Prove Short-Lived (Publication Centre)

Markets over-reacted to the much smaller-than-expected 0.1% increase in January hourly earnings, in our view. We don't have a full explanation for the shortfall against our 0.5% forecast, but that doesn't make it wise to throw out the baby with the bathwater, making the de facto assumption that wage growth now won't accelerate in the future.

7 February 2019 November's Drop in Imports won't be Repeated, but it will Lift Q4 Growth (Publication Centre)

The startling November international trade numbers, released yesterday, greatly improve the chance that the fourth quarter saw a third straight quarter of 3%- plus GDP growth.

7 February 2018 Fed Officials Likely to Signal that the Plan is to Stick to the Plan (Publication Centre)

No fewer than four FOMC members will speak today, ranging from the very dovish to the pretty hawkish.

6 February 2019 Q1 GDP Growth will be Lacklustre, but not as Bad as the PMIs Imply (Publication Centre)

Yesterday's news that the business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey fell again in January, to just 50.1--its lowest level since July 2016--has created a downbeat backdrop to the MPC meeting; the minutes and Q1 Inflation Report will be published on Thursday.

31 January 2019 Powell Says No Fed Put, but Stocks Jump and the Curve Steepens (Publication Centre)

The FOMC has gone all-in, more or less, on the idea that the headwinds facing the economy mean that the hiking cycle is over.

14 February 2018 Gas Prices Will Lift the January CPI: Core has Risks in Both Directions (Publication Centre)

We have no real argument with the consensus forecasts for the January CPI, with the headline likely to rise by 0.3%, with the core up 0.2%.

10 September 2018 The Payroll Blip is Over, Expect Further Labor Market Tightening (Publication Centre)

Normal service appears to have resumed in August, with payrolls rising by 201K, very close to the 196K average over the previous year.

11 January 2017 Slowdown in C&I Loan Growth Worrisome? (Publication Centre)

On the face of it, the slowdown in bank loan growth to commercial and industrial companies over the past two years looks alarming. In the year to November, the stock of loans outstanding rose by 8.0%, the smallest gain since January 2014. A further decline in the year-over-year rate, taking it below the rate of growth of nominal GDP--we expect 4.7% in the first quarter--for the first time in six years, is now a fair bet. The three- and six-month annualized growth rates of C&I lending in November were just 6.2% and 4.7% respectively, and still falling.

11 January 2019 Downside Risk to December's CPI Watch Used Auto Prices Airline Fares (Publication Centre)

The CPI report due today will be released on schedule, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles the data, remains open during the partial government shutdown.

11 October 2017 JOLTS Data Signal Rapid Job Gains, and Tight Labor Supply (Publication Centre)

Today's JOLTS survey covers August, which seems like a long time ago. But the report is worth your attention nonetheless.

10 May. 2016 Do Falling Earnings Signal a Rollover in Payroll Gains? (Publication Centre)

In the wake of the payroll report on Friday, several readers sent us a version of the chart reproduced below, showing the rates of growth of S&P earnings and private sector payrolls. The message from the chart appears to be that the current trend in payroll growth, a bit over 200K per month cannot be sustained.

10 May 2017 The Budget Deficit is Rising, even Before any Unfunded Tax Cuts (Publication Centre)

The CBO reckons that the April budget surplus jumped to about $179B, some $72B more than in the same month last year. This looks great, but alas all the apparent improvement reflects calendar distortions on the spending side of the accounts.

1 March 2019 Q4 Growth Rescued by Business Spending on IP, but Q1 Set to Soften (Publication Centre)

A quick rebound in growth, after the slowdown to a reported 2.6% in the fourth quarter, is unlikely.

19 November 2018 The Drop in Oil Prices will Hurt, but not too Badly, Retailers will Benefit (Publication Centre)

The plunge in oil prices in recent weeks is not a threat to the overall U.S. economic growth story in the near term--we have always expected growth to slow, but remain decent, once the boost from the tax cuts fades--but it will make a difference, at the margin.

10 January 2018 Price-Level Targeting isn't Coming Soon, it's Likely not Coming at all (Publication Centre)

Judging from our inbox, the idea that the Fed might switch to some form of price level targeting, replacing its current 2% inflation target, is the big new idea for 2018.

12 July 2017 Yellen Will Re-affirm Fed Policy. Expect no Revelations, or Dates (Publication Centre)

Chair Yellen has become quite good at not giving much away at her semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony.

10 April 2019 Core Inflation is Steady Expect Mean Reversion in the March Core (Publication Centre)

Core CPI inflation has been 2.1-to-2.2% year-over- year for the past seven months, a remarkably stable run which likely will persist for a few more months.

13 October. 2016 The FOMC is Profoundly Split (Publication Centre)

It would not be fair to describe the FOMC as gridlocked, because that would imply no clear way out of the current position. Members' views of the risks to the economy, the state of the labor market, and the degree of inflation risk are all over the map, and the chance of a broad consensus emerging any time soon is slim.

14 November 2018 Expect a Rebound in October's Core CPI, but the Trends are Benign (Publication Centre)

The near-term U.S. inflation outlook is benign, but it is not without risk.

18 September 2017 How it Could all go Wrong for U.S. Markets, and Quickly (Publication Centre)

For the record, we think the Fed should raise rates in December, given the long lags in monetary policy and the clear strength in the economy, especially the labor market, evident in the pre-hurricane data.

12 March 2018 As Good as it Gets, Provided Participation Keeps Rising (Publication Centre)

It's hard to find anything to dislike in the February employment report.

13 November 2018 When the Fiscal Push Fades, the Exposed Economy will Slow, Sharply (Publication Centre)

In the olden days, by which we mean the 15 years or so leading up to the financial crisis, a 100bp rise in long yields would be enough to slow GDP growth by about three percentage points, other things equal, after a lag of about one year.

13 March 2019 Durable Goods Orders are Noisy, but the Near-term Outlook is Grim (Publication Centre)

Our default position for core durable goods orders over the next few months is that they will fall, sharply.

12 March 2019 Strong January Retail Sales Can't Alone Rescue Q1 Consumption (Publication Centre)

The reported rebound in January retail sales was welcome, but the overshoot to consensus was matched, more or less, by the unexpected downward revisions to the December numbers.

12 October. 2016 How Hard Did FOMC Dissenters Push to Hike?  (Publication Centre)

Today's FOMC minutes will add flesh to the bones of the three dissents on September 21. The FOMC statement merely said that each of the three--Loretta Mester, Esther George and Eric Rosengren--preferred to raise rates by a quarter-point.

13 February 2019 Few Near-Term Upside Risks to Core Inflation Medium-Term Threat Rising (Publication Centre)

The odds favor--just--an end to the three-month streak of solid 0.2% increases in the core CPI with the release of today's January report.

11 May. 2016 Outside the Oil Sector, the NFIB Survey Points to Decent Capex (Publication Centre)

We're pretty sure our forecast of a levelling-off in capital spending in the oil sector will prove correct. Unless you think the U.S. oil business is going to disappear, capex has fallen so far already that it must now be approaching the incompressible minimum required for replacement parts and equipment needed to keep production going.

9 August. 2016 NFIB Survey Signals Better Non-Oil Business Capex as Soon as Q3 (Publication Centre)

The headline NFIB index of small business activity and sentiment in July likely will be little changed from June--we expect a half-point dip, while the consensus forecast is for a repeat of June's 94.5--but what we really care about is the capex intentions componen

14 November 2017 NFIB Survey set to Rebound After the Hurricane Hit, Capex Strong? (Publication Centre)

The minutes of the September 19/20 FOMC meeting record that "...it was noted that the National Federation of Independent Business reported that greater optimism among small businesses had contributed to a sharp increase in the proportion of small firms planning increases in their capital expenditures."

12 Nov. 2015 NFIB Points to Rising Capex, and Modest Increases in Core Inflation (Publication Centre)

To the extent that markets bother with the NFIB survey at all, most of the attention falls on the labor market numbers. But these data--hiring, compensation, jobs hard-to-fill--haven't changed much in recent months, and in any event most of them are released the week before the main survey, which appeared yesterday. The message from the labor data is unambiguous: Hiring remains very strong, employers are finding it very difficult to fill open positions, and compensation costs are accelerating.

12 September 2017 NFIB Labor Indicators Still Very Strong, Despite August Dips (Publication Centre)

The key labor market numbers from the monthly NFIB survey of small businesses are released ahead of the main report, due today.

12 May. 2015 Small firms in better shape than NFIB suggests - Rebound due (Publication Centre)

On the face of it, small business have taken quite a hit over the past few months. The headline index from the NFIB survey of small businesses has dropped to a nine-month low of 95.2 in March from 100.4 in December. As a result, the gap between the NFIB and the ISM manufacturing indexes, which had been narrowing, has widened again.

10 June. 2015 Tightening Labor market pushing up small firms' pricing plans? (Publication Centre)

The May NFIB survey and the April JOLTS report, both released yesterday, paint a coherent, if not yet definitive, picture of labor market developments which should alarm the Fed. The data suggest that the true labor supply, in the eyes of potential employers, is much smaller than implied by the BLS's measures of broad unemployment.

10 July 2018 Businesses' Capex Plans Set to Surge, Following Stronger Earnings (Publication Centre)

For some time now, we have puzzled over the softness of small firms' capital spending intentions, as measured by the monthly NFIB survey.

13 Jan. 2016 How Fast Can the Fed Allow Wages to Rise? (Publication Centre)

The leading wage indicators in the December NFIB survey, released in full yesterday--some of the labor market components appears a few days in advance, ahead of the official payroll report--all point to a substantial acceleration over the next six-to-nine months. Our first two charts show the NFIB jobs-hard-to-fill number and expected compensation numbers, respectively, compared to the rate of growth of hourly earnings. The message is extremely clear.

11 April 2017 Why are Small Firms' Capex Plans so Soft even as Sentiment Soars? (Publication Centre)

Nowhere is the gap between sentiment and activity wider than in the NFIB survey of small businesses. The economic expectations component leaped by an astonishing 57 points between October and December, but the capex intentions index rose by only two points over the same period, and it has since slipped back. In February, the capex intentions index stood at 26, compared to an average of 27.3 in the three months to October.

8 May 2018 Small Firms' Sentiment Likely has Weakened Further, but no Disaster (Publication Centre)

We're looking forward to today's April NFIB survey of activity and sentiment in the small business sector with some trepidation.

8 Dec. 2015 Small Firms Are Struggling to Recruit, and Price are Nudging Up (Publication Centre)

The release of the NFIB survey at 6.00AM eastern time this morning--really, they need a new PR advisor--doubtless will bring a flurry of headlines about rising wage pressures, with the expected compensation index rising by a startling three points to a new post-crash high. But this is not news, nor is the high, stable level of hiring intentions; these key labor market numbers were released last week in the NFIB Jobs Report, which appears the day before the official employment report. The data are simply extracted from the main NFIB survey.

9 Dec. 2014 - NFIB Says Wage Pressure is Rising: ECI Data Seem to Agree (Publication Centre)

We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the NFIB survey's hiring intentions number is the best guide to the trend in payroll growth a few months ahead. But today's November NFIB report will bring no new information on job growth because the key labor market elements of the survey have already been released.

4 Nov. 2015 ADP Tells Us Payrolls Mean- Revert, but That's Not News (Publication Centre)

The underlying trend in payroll growth ought to be running at 250K-plus, based on an array of indicators of the pace of both hiring and firing. The past few months' numbers have fallen far short of this pace, though, for reasons which are not yet clear. We are inclined to blame a shortage of suitably qualified staff, not least because that appears to be the message from the NFIB survey, which shows that the proportion of small businesses with unfilled positions is now close to the highs seen in previous cycles. If we're right, payroll growth won't return to the 254K average recorded in 2014 until the next cyclical upturn, but quite what to expect instead is anyone's guess.

26 October 2017 The Capex Rebound Promised by the NFIB is Reaching the Hard Data (Publication Centre)

After three straight 1.3% month-to-month increases in core capital goods orders, we are becoming increasingly confident that the upturn in business investment signalled by the NFIB survey is now materializing.

21 Oct. 2015 Are Payrolls Slowing Because the Pool of Labor Has Evaporated? (Publication Centre)

One of the possible explanations for the slowdown in payroll in growth in recent months is that the pool of labor has shrunk to the point where employers can't find the people they want to hire. That's certainly one interpretation of our first chart, which shows that the NFIB survey's measure of jobs-hard-to-fill has risen to near-record levels even as payroll growth has slowed.

25 June. 2015 When Will Small Firms Run Out of Labor Market Insiders to Hire? (Publication Centre)

The high and rising proportion of small businesses reporting difficulty in filling job openings is perhaps the biggest reason to worry that the pace of wage increases could accelerate quickly. If they pick up too far, the Fed's intention to raise rates at a "gradual" pace will be upended. The NFIB survey of small businesses--mostly very small--shows employers are having as much trouble recruiting staff as at the peak of the boom in 2006.

13 June 2017 NFIB Headline Likely to Decay, but Capex and Jobs Readings are Strong (Publication Centre)

Under normal circumstances, we can predict movements in the headline NFIB index from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released a day ahead of the official employment report, and, hence, about 10 days before the full NFIB survey appears.

Consistently Right

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