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Today's labour market figures likely will show that wage growth is bouncing back from a soft patch in late 2015. As a result, the MPC won't be able to sit on its hands much longer, especially in light of the continued dire news on productivity.
For most of the decade since the whole-economy average hourly earnings numbers were first published, the year-over-year rate of increase has run faster than the ECI measure of private sector wages and salaries, excluding incentive-paid occupations. But in the first quarter of this year, the ECI measure rose 2.5% year-over-year, the fastest increase in six years, while hourly earnings rose 2.3%. That difference might not sound like much, but it matters a good deal when put into context.
We have been hearing a good deal recently about the risk that the plunge in headline inflation will feed back into the labor market, keeping the pace of wage gains lower than they would otherwise have been and, therefore, slowing the pace of Fed tightening.
Fed Chair Yellen said something which sounded odd, at first, in her Q&A at the Senate Banking Committee last Tuesday. It is "not clear" she argued, that the rate of growth of wages has a "direct impact on inflation".
One of the key characteristics of this euro area business cycle has been near-zero inflation due to structurally weak domestic demand and depressed prices for globally traded goods and commodities. This has supported real incomes, despite sluggish nominal wage growth.
Everyone is familiar by now with the conundrum in the labor market: How come wage gains have barely increased over the past few years even as the unemployment rate has fallen to very low levels, and business surveys scream that employers can't find the people they want? To give just one visual example of the scale of the apparent anomaly, our first chart shows the yawning gap between the headline unemployment rate and the rate of growth of hourly earnings, compared to previous cycles.
The long-awaited decisive upturn in wage growth still hasn't emerged. Year-over-year growth in average weekly wages, excluding bonuses, held steady at 2.6% in May.
Yesterday's labour market data delivered a further blow to hopes that consumers' spending will retain enough momentum for the MPC to press ahead and raise interest rates this year. The most striking development is the decline in year-over-year growth in average weekly wages to just 1.9% in December, from 2.9% in November.
Investors kicked expectations for the first rise in official interest rates even further into the future when last month's labour market data, revealing a sharp fall in wage growth, were released. But a closer look at the official figures reveals that labour cost pressures have remained robust, cautioning against making a snap reaction if even weaker wage data are released on Wednesday.
Today's labour market figures look set to show that wage growth has continued to slow, fuelling speculation that interest rates are going nowhere soon. But a close examination of why wage growth has weakened suggests investors will be surprised by a robust rebound later this year.
The stand-out news from August's labour market report was the pick-up in the headline three-month average rate of year-over-year growth in average weekly wages, excluding bonuses, to 3.1%--its highest rate since January 2009--from 2.9% in July.
The shortfall in nominal wage growth, relative to measures of labor market tightness, remains the single biggest mystery of this business cycle.
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%.
Slack in the labour market no longer is being absorbed and wage growth still is struggling for momentum, placing little pressure on the MPC to rush the next rate rise.
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.
Barring some sort of out-of-the-blue shock, we are much more interested in the hourly earnings data today than the headline payroll number. The key question is the extent to which wages rebound after being depressed by a persistent calendar quirk in both February and March.
If the Fed needed further encouragement to raise rates next month, it arrived Friday in the form of solid jobs numbers, a new cycle low for the broad unemployment rate, and a new cycle high for wage growth.
We hadn't expected the scorching 3.6% year-over- year growth rate in Japan's June average wages
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.
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.
Wage growth will be crucial in determining how quickly the MPC raises interest rates this year. So far, it hasn't recovered meaningfully.
Yesterday's labour market data brought further signs that wage growth is recovering from its early 2017 dip.
In the absence of any significant data releases today, we want to take a closer look at the outlook for wage growth, and the implications of an acceleration in hourly earnings for inflation.
This week is, potentially, hugely important in determining the Fed's near-term view of the real state of the labor market and its approach to monetary policy over the next few months. The key event is the release of the fourth quarter employment cost index, which could make a material difference to perceptions of the degree of wage pressure.
This was supposed to be the year that wage growth finally would pick up and signal clearly to the MPC that the economy needs higher interest rates.
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, which contains granular detail on wages and provides a useful cross-check on the regular average weekly wage earnings--AWE--data, was published yesterday.
Today's labour market report likely will show that employment continued to grow briskly over the summer, but that wage gains still are lagging well behind inflation.
Japanese average regular wages increased at an annualised rate of 0.6% in the three months to August compared with the previous three months, matching the rate in July.
Amid the intensifying debate about the pros and cons of E.U. membership, higher immigration from the rest of Europe often is blamed for the disappointing weakness of wage growth over the last couple of years. But we see little evidence to support that hypothesis.
We've had some correspondence questioning our view on the "weakness" of February hourly earnings, which we firmly believe were depressed by a persistent calendar quirk. Almost nine times in 10 over the past decade, when the 15th of the month has fallen after the week of the 12th--the payroll survey week--the monthly gain in wages has undershot the prior trend.
Payroll growth will slow in the first few months of next year, but wages will accelerate. This might seem counter-intuitive after the ballistic December jobs number coupled with sluggish-looking hourly earnings, but the devil, as always, is in the details. On the face of it, the trend in payroll growth is accelerating at a startling pace, captured in our first chart. But we very much doubt this reflects a real shift in the underlying pace of employment growth, for two reasons. First, payroll growth in recent years has tended to accelerate in the fourth quarter, even when indicators of both labor demand and the pace of layoffs--the two sides of the payroll equation--have been flat, as in Q4.
Data on Friday showed that German wage growth is firming. Nominal labour costs rose 2.5% year-overyear in Q3, accelerating from a revised 1.9% increase in Q2. The main driver was a strong rebound in gross earnings growth, which rebounded to 2.4% year-over-year from an oddly weak 1.2% in Q2.
Mark Carney emphasised in his Mansion House speech last month that he wants wage growth to "begin to firm" from recent "anaemic" rates before voting to raise interest rates.
Experimental figures, released earlier this week, suggest that wages have increased at a faster rate than indicated by the average weekly earnings--AWE--data.
The Fed's decisions over the next few months hinge on the relative importance policymakers place on the apparent slowdown in payroll growth and the unambiguous acceleration in wages. We qualify our verdict on the payroll numbers because the January number was very close to our expectation, which in turn was based largely on an analysis of the seasonals, not the underlying economy.
The 0.7% first quarter increase in the ECI measure of private sector wages and salaries raised the year-over-year rate to 2.8%, the highest since late 2008 and significantly stronger than the 2.1% increase in hourly earnings in the year to March.
Stanley Fischer said something interesting and potentially very revealing in the Q&A following his speech Tuesday afternoon at the Council on Foreign Relations. The Fed Vice-Chair argued that wage increases of 3% are "where people would like to be", meaning, presumably, that he believes sustained wage gains at this pace are consistent with the Fed's 2% medium-term inflation forecast.
Whatever you do, don't fret over the apparent loss of momentum in the wages numbers; it's a classic statistical head fake, as we pointed out in Friday's Monitor, before the report. When the 15th of the month--payday for people paid semi monthly-- falls after the employment survey week, the BLS fails properly to capture their income, and hourly earnings are under-reported.
The Chancellor announced to great fanfare last July that a new National Living Wage-- NLW--would be introduced in April 2016 at 7.5% above the existing legal minimum for most workers. Companies can and will take a variety of actions to mitigate the impact on their costs.
Markets were right to conclude that September's slightly weaker average weekly wage figures will have little impact on the MPC's decision on when to raise official interest rates. Fundamentally, wage pressures are building and likely will contribute to pushing CPI inflation back to its 2% target towards the end of 2016.
Japan's regular wage growth continued to edge up in November, maintaining the rising trend. The headline is volatile, with growth in labour cash earnings rising to 0.9% year-over-year in November, up from a downwardly revised 0.2% in October.
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.
We'd be quite surprised if the headline payroll number today turned out to be far from the consensus, 205K, or our forecast, 225K.
This week's labour market, inflation and retail sales data--the last before the MPC meets on May 10--will have a major bearing on the Committee's decision.
Consensus expectations for August's labour market data, released today, look well grounded.
Yesterday's labour market data significantly bolster the consensus view on the MPC that interest rates do not need to rise this year to counter the imminent burst of inflation. Granted, the headline, three-month average, unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in January--its lowest rate since August 1975--from 4.8% in December, defying the consensus forecast for no-change.
Core CPI inflation is heading for 2½% by the end of this year, and perhaps sooner. The trend in the monthly numbers is now a solid 0.2%, and that's before the weaker dollar arrests the decline in goods prices. Goods account for only a quarter of the core CPI, and right now they are the only part of the index under downward pressure. If--when--that changes, core inflation could rise quite rapidly.
The minutes of March's MPC meeting were more newsworthy than we--and the markets--expected. Kristin Forbes broke ranks and voted to raise Bank Rate to 0.50%, from 0.25%.
If recent labor market trends continue, the four employment reports which will be released before the June FOMC meeting will show the economy creating about 1.1M jobs, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.3%, almost at the bottom of the Fed's estimated Nairu range, 5.2-to-5.5%.
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.
ebruary's labour market data failed to make a resounding case for the MPC to raise interest rates in May, prompting markets to reduce the probability attached to a hike next month to 85%, from nearly 90% before the data were released.
The 21K rise in the headline, three-month average, unemployment rate between November and February confirmed last month that the U.K.'s period of fantastically strong growth in employment has ended. Timelier indicators, however, suggest unemployment is stabilising, not on the cusp of a major increase.
The MPC almost certainly will keep interest rates on hold today and likely won't give a strong steer on the outlook for policy in the minutes of its meeting, which are released at mid-day. On the whole, surveys of economic activity have been weak, indicating that GDP growth has slowed sharply in the second quarter.
Today's employment report in the euro area should extend the run of positive labour market data. We think employment rose 1.4% year-over-year in Q1, accelerating marginally from a 1.2% increase in Q4.
Japan's labour cash earnings rose by 1.5% year-over- year in July, a strong result in the Japanese context, if it hadn't been preceded by the 3.6% leap in June.
A reader sent us last week a series of five simple feedback loops, all of which ended with the Fed remaining "cautious". For example, in a scenario in which the dollar strengthens--perhaps because of stronger U.S. economic data--markets see an increased risk of a Chinese devaluation, which then pummels EM assets, making the Fed nervous about global growth risks to the domestic economy.
Workers in the euro area remain scarred by the zone's repeated crises, but the strengthening cyclical recovery is slowly starting to spread to the labour market. The unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 10.9% in July, and employment has edged higher after hitting a low in the middle of 2013. Germany's outperformance is a key story, with employment increasing uninterruptedly since 2009, and the unemployment rate declining to an all-time low of 6.4%. Among the other major economies, the unemployment rate in Spain and Italy remains higher than in France. But employment in Spain has outperformed in the cyclical recovery since 2013.
The underlying trend in payroll growth is running at about 225K-to-250K, perhaps more, and the leading indicators we follow suggest that's a reasonable starting point for our December forecast. The trend in jobless claims is extraordinarily low and stable--the week-to-week volatility is eye-catching, especially over the holidays, but unimportant--and indicators of hiring remain robust. The unusually warm weather in the eastern half of the country between the November and December survey weeks also likely will give payrolls a small nudge upwards, with construction likely the key beneficiary, as in November.
Private sector payroll growth has averaged 190K over the past year, but the six-month average has slowed to 150K. The downshift is consistent with the weakening in survey-based measures of hiring intentions, which began to soften at the turn of the year.
First things first: Payroll growth likely will be sustained at or close to November's pace.
Whatever you might think about the state of the U.S. economy, it is not as volatile as implied by the past few months' payroll numbers. Assuming steady productivity growth in line with the recent trend, the payroll data suggest the economy swung from bust to boom in one month, with not even a pause for breath.
The undershoot in April payrolls, relative to the consensus, is a story of a fluke number in just one sector. Retail payrolls reportedly shrank by 3K, after rising by an average of 52K over the previous six months. Our first chart shows clearly that the retail payrolls are quite volatile over short periods, with sudden and often inexplicable swings in both directions quite common.
Yesterday's labour market data gave sterling a shot in the arm on t wo counts. First, the headline, three-month average, unemployment rate fell to just 4.5% in May, from 4.6% in April.
The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in Germany slipped to €19.6B in July, from €21.2B in June, its lowest since April, and we are confident that it has peaked for this cycle.
As we reach our Sunday afternoon deadline, Hurricane Irma is pounding Florida's west coast with an intensity not seen since Andrew, in 1992.
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.
Whatever you think is the underlying tr end in payroll growth, you probably should expect a modest undershoot in today's report, thanks to the persistent tendency for the first estimate of September payrolls to undershoot and then be revised higher. The good news is that the initial September error tends not to be as big as in August--the median revision from the first estimate to the third over the past six years has been 49K, compared to 66K--and it has declined recently. Over the past three years, September revisions have ranged from only 18K to 27K. Still, we can't ignore six straight years of initial undershoots.
Leading indicators for consumers' spending in France are sending conflicting signals. Survey data suggest that households are in a spendthrift mood. Data yesterday showed that the headline consumer sentiment index was unchanged in March at 100, the cycle high.
The headline employment cost index has been remarkably dull recently, with three straight 0.6% quarterly increases. The consensus forecast for today's report, for the three months to December, is for the same again.
Perhaps the biggest single reason for the Fed's reluctance, so far, to move away from monetary policy designed to cope with catastrophe is that no-one knows for sure how much of the damage has been repaired, and how close the economy is to normalizing.
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.
Japanese firms hand out a significant portion of labour compensation through bonuses, with the largest lump awarded in December.
The labour market in Germany tightened further at the end of last year. The headline unemployment rate--unemployment claims as a share of the labour force--fell to 5.5% in December, from 5.6% in November, driven by a 29K plunge in claims.
We were happy to see the 255K gain in July payrolls, but we remain nervous about the sustainability of such strong numbers. The jump in employment was very large relative to some of the key survey-based indicators of the pace of hiring, even after allowing for the 29K favorable swing in the birth/ death model, compared to a year ago, and the 27K jump in state and local government education jobs, likely due to seasonal adjustment problems
We're guessing Fed Chair Yellen would have preferred to have another acceleration in hourly earnings and a dip in the unemployment rate along side the hefty 211K leap in November payrolls, but no matter. At its October meeting, the Fed wanted to see "some further improvement in the labor market", and by any reasonable standard a 509K total increase in payrolls in two months fits the bill.
Japanese average cash earnings posted a surprise drop of 0.4% year-over-year in June, down from 0.6% in May and sharply below the consensus for a rise of 0.5%. The decline was driven by a fall in the June bonus, by 1.5%.
Japanese labour cash earnings data threw analysts another curveball in July, falling 0.3% year-over-year. At the same time, June earnings are now said to have risen by 0.4%, compared with a fall of 0.4% in the initial print.
If the underlying trend in payroll growth is about 200K, then a weather-depressed 98K reading needs to be followed by a rebound of about 300K in order fully to reverse the hit. But the consensus for today's April number is only 190K, and our forecast is 225K.
Producer price inflation in the euro area almost surely peaked over the summer.
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.
We have argued for some time that the plunge in gasoline prices will constrain core inflation over the course of this year, by reducing production and distribution costs for a broad array of goods.
Bank Governor Mark Carney reiterated in a speech yesterday that he wants to see sustained momentum in GDP growth, domestic cost pressures firm and core inflation rise further towards 2%, before raising interest rates. We doubt he will have long to wait on the last two points, given the tightness of the labour market.
Japan's average monthly labour earnings growth tumbled to 0.9% year-over-year in August, from 1.6% in July. This is not a disaster.
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.
Margins for German manufacturing firms remained depressed at the start of the second quarter. The headline PPI rose 0.1% month-to-month in April, pushing the year-over-year rate down marginally to -3.1% from a revised -3.0% in March. Falling energy prices are the key driver of the overall decline in the PPI.
The underlying trend in payroll growth probably has not changed significantly from the 228K average monthly gains recorded last year. But the average hides wide variations, some triggered by seasonal adjustment problems and others by one-time weather effects or unavoidable and random sampling error. January's below-trend 151K increase was likely a victim of seasonal problems, because payroll gains in recent years have tended to be soft at the start of the year after outsized fourth quarter increases.
We have argued for some time that the hourly earnings data, which take no account of changes in the mix of employment by industry or occupation, have been depressed over the past year by the relatively rapid growth of low-paid jobs.
Markets will be hyper-sensitive to U.K. data releases following the MPC's warning that it is on the verge of raising interest rates.
Japan's services sector PMI last week was disappointing.
At their March meeting FOMC members' range of forecasts for the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of this year ranged from 4.4% to 4.7%, with a median of 4.5%. But Friday's report showed that the unemployment rate hit the bottom of the forecast range in April.
The Italian economy slowed at the end 2017, and it continues to underperform other major EZ economies. Real GDP rose 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, a bit slower than the 0.3% gain in Q3, pushing full-year growth up to a modest 1.0%. This compares poorly, though, with growth of 1.6% in the euro area as a whole.
CPI inflation increased to 2.9% in May, from 2.7% in April, exceeding the no-change expectation of both the consensus and the MPC, as well as our own 2.8% forecast.
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?
The absence of hawkish undertones in the minutes of the MPC's meeting or in the Inflation Report forecasts took markets by surprise yesterday. The dominant view on the Committee remains that the economy will slow over the next couple of years, preventing wage growth from reaching a pace which would put inflation on trac k permanently to exceed the 2% target.
The March employment report didn't tell us what we really want to know. The underlying trend in wage growth remains obscured by the calendar quirk which depresses reported hourly earnings when the 15th of the month--pay day for people paid semi-monthly -- falls after the payroll survey week.
We're pretty sure that the unemployment rate didn't drop by 0.3 percentage points in November. We're pretty sure hourly earnings didn't fall by 0.1%. And we're pretty sure payrolls didn't rise by 178K. All the employment data are unreliable month-to-month, with the wages numbers particularly susceptible to technical quirks.
April's labour market data show that slack in the job market is no longer declining, while wage growth still isn't recovering. As a result, we no longer think that the MPC will raise Bank Rate in August and now expect the Committee to stand pat until the first half of 2019.
It's hard to know what will stop the correction in the stock market, but we're pretty sure that robust economic data--growth, prices and/or wages--over the next few weeks would make things worse.
When we argue that the Fed will have to respond to accelerating wages and core prices by raising rates faster than markets expect, a frequent retort is that the Fed has signalled a greater tolerance than in the past for inflation overshoots.
Japanese services price inflation edged down in May as the twin upside drivers of commodity price inflation and yen weakness began to lose steam. We expect wage costs to begin edging up in the second half but this will provide only a partial counterbalance.
Surveys suggest that today's retail sales figures will show that sales volumes increased by around 1% month-to-month in June, significantly exceeding the consensus, 0.4%. But the pickup in June likely will be just a blip; the further intensification of the squeeze on real wages and a tightening of unsecured lending standards will keep retail sales on a flat path in the second half of 2017.
Retail sales fell sharply in September, highlighting that consumers still are spending only cautiously amid high economic uncertainty and falling real wages.
We have been rigorous in using the word nascent whenever referring to Japan's wage-price spiral.
Markets currently judge that U.K. interest rates will rise about six months after the first Fed hike. But the Bank of England seldom lagged this far behind in the past. Admittedly, the slowdown in the domestic economy that we expect will require the Monetary Policy Committee to be cautious. But wage and exchange rate pressures are likely to mean six months is the maximum period the MPC can wait before following the Fed's lead.
BanRep surprised the markets on Friday with a 25bp interest rate cut, bringing rates to 7.50%. We expected the Colombian central bank to start easing in January, due to the uncertainties surrounding the tax reform package and the ongoing minimum wage negotiations.
Strong fundamentals have supported private consumption in Mexico recently, but we now expect a slowdown. Spending will not collapse, though, because consumer credit growth, formal employment, real wage income and remittances will continue to underpin consumption for the next three-to-six months.
The improvement in the Markit/CIPS services PMI in October was pretty limp, supporting our view here that the recovery is shifting into a lower gear. What's more, the poor productivity performance implied by the latest PMIs indicates that wage growth will fuel inflation soon. As a result, the Monetary Policy Committee--MPC--won't be able to wait long next year before raising interest rates. Indeed, we expect the minutes of this month's meeting, released today, to show that one more member of the nine-person MPC has joined Ian McCafferty in voting to hike rates.
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.
Jim Bullard, the St. Louis Fed president, said last week that Phillips Curve effects in the U.S. are "weak", and that nominal wage growth is not a good predictor of future inflation.
In yesterday's Monitor we set out the risk that accelerating wages will force the Fed to raise rates more quickly than expected, but we didn't have space to address the underlying premise of this story, namely, the idea that inflation is largely a cost-push phenomenon. From the perspective of fixed income investors, it might not seem to matter whether this is a realistic description of the inflation process, because Fed Chair Yellen believes it wholeheartedly, and her hands are on the levers of monetary policy.
The Monetary Policy Committee continues to assert that it can leave interest rates at rock-bottom levels, even though the unemployment rate has returned to its pre-recession level, because it understates the extent of slack in the labour market. If that hypothesis were correct, however, the relationship between the unemployment rate and wage growth would have weakened. But this clearly has not happened, as our first chart shows.
The worst phase of the squeeze on real wages is nearly over; CPI inflation looks set to peak at slightly above 3% in October, before falling back steadily to about 2% by the end of 2018.
Core CPI inflation plunged in the aftermath of the crash, reaching a low of 0.6% in October 2010. It then rebounded to a peak of 2.3% in the spring of 2012, before subsiding to a range from 1.6-to-1.9%, held down by slow wage gains and the strengthening dollar, until late last year. Faster increases in services prices and rents lifted core inflation to 2.3% in February, matching the 2012 high, but it has since been unchanged, net.
Rapid growth in labour supply has enabled the U.K. economy to grow quickly over the last three years without generating excessive wage or inflation pressure. The rise in the participation rate--the proportion of those aged over 16 in or looking for work--has been critical to this revival. But the rise in the participation rate largely has reflected cyclical factors rather than a sustainable upward trend, and the downward pressure on participation from demographic factors will build over the coming years.
The FOMC yesterday did what it had to do, and said what it had to say. The super-doves were kicked into line, with a unanimous vote, though two members' blue dots showed they think rates should not have been raised. In our view, though, Dr. Yellen's avowed intention to raise rates gradually sits uneasily with her--correct--assertion that policy remains very accommodative, bearing in mind that the unemployment rate is now at the Fed's estimate of the Nairu, while evidence of accelerating wage gains is burgeoning.
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.
Japan's average year-over-year wage growth slowed sharply in May, but this mainly was a correction of the April spike.
The new fiscal projections in the Budget today likely will be based on implausible economic projections, which assume that wage growth will accelerate soon, lifting inflation, but that interest rates won't rise for three more years. You can coherently forecast one or the other, but not both.
Yesterday's labour market data showed that growth in households' income has slowed significantly in recent months. Firms are both hiring cautiously and restraining wage increases, due to heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook and rising raw material and non-wage labour costs. Consumers' spending, therefore, will support GDP growth to a far smaller extent this year than last.
If the economy is to enter recession, falling business investment probably will have to be the main driver. Growth in consumer spending likely will slow sharply over the next year as firms become more cautious about hiring new workers and inflation begins to exceed wage growth again.
The strength of the economic recovery next year and the MPC's scope to leave interest rates at ultra-low levels will hinge on whether wage growth picks up in response to rising inflation.
The most striking aspect of yesterday's labour market report was the pick-up in the headline three month average year-over-year growth rate of average weekly wages, to a 14-month high of 2.8% in November, from 2.6% in October. Although still low by pre-recession standards, wage growth now is close to the rate that might worry the MPC.
It's tempting to conclude that the pick-up in year over-year growth in average weekly wages, excluding bonuses, to a three-year high of 3.1% in July, from 2.8% in June, signals that employees' bargaining power has strengthened and that a sustained wage recovery now is under way.
To be clear, the 2.9% year-over-year increase in headline hourly earnings in January does not restore the prior relationship between the rate of growth of nominal wages and measures of labor market tightness.
In January, average hourly wages grew 0.5% over the prior month, the biggest month-on-month increase since November 2008......Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macro said the outlook for wage growth is still strong
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the impact of improving wage growth and inflation on the Federal Reserve ahead of today's February jobs report. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Labour Market data for May
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on August Employment data
Mexico's inflation is heading down. Wednesday's advance CPI report showed that inflation pressures are finally fading, following temporary shocks in recent months, and the end of the "gasolinazo" effect.
The preliminary estimate of a 0.5% quarter-on-quarter rise in GDP in the fourth quarter of 2015 was left unrevised, but that was the only nugge t of good news from yesterday's second GDP release. The expenditure breakdown hardly could have looked more troubling.
Chair Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole at 10am Eastern time today has the potential to move markets substantially, but that's not our core expectation. It's more likely, we think, that Dr. Yellen will stick to the core FOMC view, which remains that "only gradual increases" in rates will be required, and that rates are "likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run".
Today's preliminary estimate of Q4 GDP likely will show that the Brexit vote has not caused the economy to slow yet. But growth at the end of last year appears to have relied excessively on household spending, which has been increasingly financed by debt. GDP growth likely will slow decisively in Q1 as the squeeze on households' real incomes intensifies.
Consumers' spending in Mexico was relatively resilient at the end of Q1, but we think it will slow in the second quarter. Data released this week showed that retail sales rose a strong-looking 6.1% year-over-year in March, well above market expectations, and up from 3.6% in February.
Economic activity in Mexico during the past few months has been relatively resilient, as external and domestic threats appear to have diminished.
Whichever way you choose to slice the numbers, consumers' spending is growing much more slowly than is implied by an array of confidence surveys.
Data today will likely show that consumer sentiment in the Eurozone remains firm. In Germany, we expect a slight dip in the advance headline GFK confidence index to 9.8 in June, from an all-time high of 10.1 in May.
Economic data in the Eurozone are sending an increasingly upbeat message on the economy. Yesterday saw a barrage of numbers, but the most startling of them was the continued acceleration in the money supply.
The Brazilian labour market is slowly healing following the severe recession of 2015-16. The latest employment data, released last week, showed that the economy added 35K net jobs in August, compared to a 34K loss in August 2016.
In recent months we have argued that housing market activity has peaked for this cycle, with rising mortgage rates depressing the flow of mortgage applications.
Mr. Abe yesterday called a snap general election, to be held on October 22nd; more on this in tomorrow's Monitor. For now, note that the election comes at a reasonably good stage of the economic cycle, hot on the heels of very rapid GDP growth in Q2, while the PMIs indicate that the economy remained healthy in Q3.
Japanese data continue to come in strongly for the second quarter. The manufacturing PMI points to continued sturdy growth, despite the headline index dipping to 52.0 in June from 53.1 in May. The average for Q2 overall was 52.6, almost unchanged from Q1's 52.8, signalling that manufacturing output growth has maintained its recent rate of growth.
The Eurozone economy ended the third quarter on a strong note, according to the PMIs.
Economic activity in Mexico during the past few months has been stronger than most observers expected. Growth has certainly moderated from the relatively strong pace recorded during the second half of last year, but data for January and February show that it is still quite strong.
Today brings new housing market data, in the form of the weekly applications numbers from the MBA. The weekly data are seasonally adjusted but are still very volatile, especially in the spring.
Public borrowing has continued to fall more rapidly than anticipated in the latest official plans.
Broad-based inflation pressures in Brazil remain tame despite the sharp BRL depreciation this year, totalling about 7% in the last three months alone.
The U.S. household sector carries substantial gross debts, even after the sustained deleveraging since the crash of 2008. The gross debt-to-income ratio stood at 105.3% in the second quarter of this year, down from the 135% peak in late 2007 but still well above the 88% average recorded in the 1990s, which was not a decade of restraint on the part of consumers.
An array of data today will be mostly positive, and even the most likely candidate for a downside surprise--the October advance trade numbers--is very unlikely to change anyone's mind on the Fed's December decision. On the plus side, the first revision to third quarter GDP growth should see the headline number dragged up into almost respectable territory, at 2.4%, from the deeply underwhelming 1.5% initial estimate.
Eurozone consumers' spending jumped in Q2, but we are pretty certain that a slowdown in retail sales constrained growth in Q3.
Yesterday's final Q2 GDP report in Germany confirmed the initial data showing that the economy slowed less than we expected last quarter. Real GDP rose 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, after a 0.7% jump in Q1. The working-day adjusted year-over-year rate fell marginally to 1.8%, from 1.9% in Q1.
Chinese New Year effects were very visible in Japan's December trade data. Export growth slowed sharply to 9.3% year-over-year in December, from 16.2% in November.
The end of China's Party Congress can feel like an endless exercise in reading the tea leaves.
Recent consumer confidence numbers have been strong enough that we don't need to see any further increase. The expectations components of both the Michigan and Conference Board surveys are consistent with real spending growth of 21⁄2-to- 3%, which is about the best we can expect when real income growth, after tax, is trending at about 21⁄2%.
Improving consumer fundamentals continue to underpin growth in private spending in Mexico, according to retail sales and inflation reports published this week. March retail sales were much stronger than expected, jumping 3.0% month-to-month, after averaging gains of 0.8% in the preceding three months. And sales for the three months through February were revised up marginally.
The headline in yesterday's detailed Q1 German GDP data was old news, confirming that growth in the euro area's largest economy slowed at the start of the year.
The participation rate--the proportion of people either in or looking for work--has held steady over the last decade, despite the ageing of the population and the rise in student numbers.
Markets cheered soaring business surveys in the Eurozone earlier this week, and recent consumer sentiment data also have been cause for celebration. The advance GfK consumer confidence index in Germany rose to a record high of 10.4 in June, from 10.2 in May.
Since the Party Congress last month, China has made a number of bold moves in multiple policy fields, with a regularity that almost implies the authorities are working through a list.
Yesterday's consumer confidence report in Germany was soft, in contrast to surging business sentiment data earlier in the week.
Our payroll model relies heavily on lagged indicators of the pace of hiring, most of which have improved in recent months after a sustained, though modest, softening which began last spring. That's why we expected an above-consensus reading from ADP on Wednesday and from the BLS today.
Fed Chair Powell sounded a lot like Janet Yellen yesterday, at least in terms of substance.
German labour market data continue to break records on a monthly basis. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.2% in A pril, with jobless claims falling 16,000, following a revised 2,000 fall in March. March employment rose 1.2% year-over-year, down slightly from 1.3% in February, but the total number of people in jobs rose to a new high of 43.4 million.
Yesterday's inflation data in the major euro area economies force us to mark down slightly our prediction for today's headline EZ number.
Yesterday's October labour market data in Mexico showed that the adjusted unemployment rate rose a bit to 3.4%, from 3.3% in September.
The astonishing 86% annualized plunge in capital spending in mining structures--mostly oil wells--alone subtracted 0.6 percentage points from headline GDP growth in the first quarter. The collapse was bigger than we expected, based on the falling rig count, but the key point is that it will not be repeated in the second quarter.
The preliminary estimate of a 0.5% quarter-on-quarter rise in GDP in Q4 slightly exceeded our expectation and the third quarter's growth rate, both 0.4%. Nonetheless, there was little to console the optimists in the figures. The recovery remains unbalanced, with industrial production and construction output falling by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively, while services output rose 0.7% quarter-on-quarter.
The U.K. economy retained its momentum last year, despite the seismic shock of the vote to leave the EU. Quarter-on-quarter GDP growth averaged 0.5% in the first three quarters of 2016, matching 2015's rate and the average pace of growth across the Atlantic.
This is the final report before your scribe disappears into the Scottish Highlands for a few weeks, and we are leaving you with a Eurozone economy in fine form. The calendar will be relatively light in our absence and will tell us what we already know; namely that the euro area economy maintained its strong momentum in Q2.
Media reports suggest that the underlying trends in retailing--rising online sales, declining store sales and mall visits--continued unabated over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Japan's CPI inflation jumped to 1.0% in December from 0.6% in November, driven by food prices.
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.
Equity prices for companies dependent on the U.K.'s residential property market tumbled yesterday as several companies reported poor results for the first half of 2017. Most companies blamed a decline in housing transactions for falling profits.
The E.C.'s Economic Sentiment Indicator for the U.K., released yesterday, painted an upbeat picture of the economy's recent performance. The ESI picked up to 109.4 in February from 107.1 in January; its average level since 1990 is 100. February's reading was the highest since December 2015, and it slightly exceeded the E.U.'s average of 108.9.
The Mexican economy shrank by 0.2% quarter- on-quarter in Q2, according to the final GDP report, a tenth worse than the preliminary reading.
Robust demand in the ECB's final TLTRO auction was the main story in EZ financial markets yesterday. Euro area banks--474 in total-- took up €233.5B in the March TLTRO, well above the consensus forecast €110B. To us, this strong demand is a sign that EZ banks are taking advantage of the TLTROs' incredibly generous conditions.
The last few years have thrown up surprise after surprise for establishment parties. Mr. Abe's Liberal Democrat Party is about as establishment as they come.
Short of saying "We're going to hike rates in two weeks' time", Dr. Yellen's view of the immediate economic and policy outlook, set out in her speech yesterday, could hardly have been clearer. Yes, she threw in the usual caveats: "...we take account of both the upside and downside risks around our projections when judging the appropriate stance of monetary policy", and saying the FOMC will have to evaluate the data due ahead of this month's meeting, but her underlying message was straightforward.
The further decline in mortgage approvals in August shows that housing market activity remains very subdued. The recent fall in mortgage rates likely will prop up demand soon, but the poor outlook for households' real incomes suggests that both activity and prices will revive only modestly over the next year.
Korean real GDP growth rebounded to 1.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, from 0.6% in Q2. The main driver was exports, with government consumption also popping, and private consumption was a little faster than we were expecting.
The MPC's hawks are framing the interest rate increase they want as a "withdrawal of part of the stimulus that the Committee had injected in August last year", arguing that monetary policy still would be "very supportive" if rates rose to 0.5%, from 0.25%.
Mr. Draghi snubbed investors looking for hints on policy and the euro in his Jackson Hole address--see here--on Friday.
Why should Japan, the U.S., the Euro Area, the U.K. and Japan all have the same inflation target?
Friday's euro area inflation reported capped a difficult week for EZ bondholders, although most of the damage was done beforehand by the advance German data.
We fear that private spending in the EZ slowed in Q1, despite rocketing survey data. This fits our view that household consumption will slow in 2017 after sustained above-trend growth in the beginning of this business cycle.
The economic data in the Eurozone were mixed while we were away.
Another month, another bleak Brazilian labor market report. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased marginally to 8.3% in December, up from 8.2% in November, much worse than the 5.1% recorded in December 2014.
Japan's unemployment rate edged back up to 2.5% in February after the drop in January to 2.4%.
Developments over the last month have heightened our concern about the near-term outlook for households' spending.
Advance April consumer survey data will likely confirm that households remain the standout driver of the cyclical recovery in the euro area. We think the headline EC consumer sentiment index rose to -1.0 in April from -3.7 in March.
The trend in public borrowing has improved significantly over recent months, but it is far too soon to conclude that the Chancellor is on track to meet his goal of running a budget surplus by the end of this decade. The recent economic slowdown has not impacted the public borrowing numbers, yet.
Consumption and investment spending by state and local government accounts for just over 10% of the U.S. economy, making it more important than exports or consumers' spending on durable goods, and roughly equal to all business investment in equipment and intellectual property.
Speeches by Chair Yellen and Vice-Chair Fischer give the two most important Fed officials the perfect platform today to signal to markets whether rates will rise this month.
We would be very surprised if the Fed were to raise rates today. The Yellen Fed is not in the business of shocking markets, and with the fed funds future putting the odds of a hike at just 22%, action today would assuredly come as a shock, with adverse consequences for all dollar assets.
German producer price inflation rebounded last month. The headline PPI index rose 2.6% year-over-year in August, up from a 2.3% increase in July, driven almost exclusively by a jump in energy inflation.
August's retail sales figures create a misleading impression that consumers can be relied upon to pull the economy through the next six months of heightened Brexit uncertainty unscathed.
Last week's attacks in Barcelona--one of Spain's most popular tourist spots--struck at the heart of one of the economy's main growth engines.
The period of surprisingly low inflation following sterling's plunge when the UK left the Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992 appears to challenge our view that inflation will overshoot the MPC's 2% target over the next couple of years. As our first chart shows, CPI inflation averaged just 2.5% in 1993 and 2% in 1994, even though trade-weighted sterling plunged by 15% and import prices surged.
The stand-out news yesterday was the increase in the headline, three-month average, unemployment rate to 4.4% in December, from 4.3% in September.
This is the final Monitor before we hit the beach for two weeks, so want to highlight some of the key data and event risks while we're out. First, we're expecting little more from the FOMC statement than an acknowledgment that the labor market data improved in June. After the May jobs report, the FOMC remarked that "...the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed".
Here's something we didn't expect to write: The CPI measure of goods prices, excluding food and energy, rose in the three months to January, compared to the previous three months. OK, the increase was marginal, a mere 0.3%, but conventional wisdom has assumed for some time that the strong dollar would push goods prices down indefinitely.
The Chancellor can go on his Christmas vacation content that the public finances have weathered the economy's slowdown relatively well this year.
The BoJ left policy unchanged yesterday, but we noted some significant additions and modifications in the statement and the press conference.
This is the final U.S. Economic Monitor of 2017, a year which has seen the economy strengthen, the labor market tighten substantially, and the Fed raise rates three times, with zero deleterious effect on growth.
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.
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.
December's labour market report, released today, won't be a game-changer for the near-term outlook for interest rates; January data will be released before the MPC meets in March, and February data will be available at its key meeting in May.
The ECB pressed the repeat button yesterday. The central bank maintained its refinancing rate at 0.00%, and also kept the deposit and marginal lending facility rate at -0.4% and 0.25 respectively. The pace of QE was held at €60B per month, scheduled to run until the end of December, "or beyond, if necessary."
Chile's Q2 GDP report, released yesterday, confirmed that the economy gathered strength in the first half of the year, consolidating a strong recovery that started in Q3 2017.
This weekend's first round of the French presidential election is too close to call. Our first chart indicates that a runoff between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron remains the best bet. But the statistical uncertainty inherent in the predictions, and the proximity of the two remaining candidates--the centre-right Mr. Fillon and far-left Mr. Melenchon-- mean that this is now effectively a four-horse race.
The FOMC won't raise rates today, but we expect that the announcement of the start of balance sheet reduction will not be interrupted by Harvey and Irma.
Signs that Easter trading was unusually poor lead us to anticipate a downside surprise from today's retail sales data for March. The BRC's Retail Sales Monitor, which surveys companies that account for 60% of total retail sales, was remarkably weak in March.
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.
Abenomics has had its successes in changing the structure of Japan. Notably, large numbers of women have gone back to work and corporations have started paying dividends. These are by no means small victories. But overall, the macroeconomy is essentially the same as when Shinzo Abe became prime minister.
February's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, are likely to show that CPI inflation has picked up again, perhaps to 0.5%--the highest rate since December 2014--from 0.3% in January. This will give the Monetary Policy Committee more confidence in its judgement that CPI inflation will be back at the 2% target in two years' time.
February's consumer price figures give the MPC reason to doubt the case for raising interest rates again as soon as May.
Labour costs growth accelerated modestly last year in the Eurozone. Data on Friday showed that Q4 nominal labour costs in the Eurozone rose 1.3% year-over-year, slightly higher than the 1.1% increase in Q3. The modest acceleration was mainly due to a rise in "non-business" labour costs, which rose 1.6% year-over-year, up from a 0.9% increase in Q3.
Fed Chair Yellen made it clear in last week's press conference that she is not convinced the increase in core inflation will persist: "I want to warn that there may be some transitory factors that are influencing [the rise in core inflation]... I see some of that is having to do with unusually high inflation readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time.
It is looking increasingly likely that core inflation, which already has fallen to 2.1% in May, from a peak of 2.7% last year, will slip below 2% next year.
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.
Another deadline has come and gone in the negotiations between Greece and its creditors. This week's meeting between EU finance ministers revealed that the creditors have not seen enough commitments unlock the €7B Greece needs to repay in July. Mr. Tsipras has agreed to energy sector privatizations, and to increase the threshold for income tax exemption.
Brazil economic and political outlook is still opaque, but grim, after a vast array of negative news. Impeachment of President Rousseff remains a possibility; the process of fiscal consolidation is messy and politically bloody; rumors that Finance Minister Levy might leave his post next year have intensified; and the latest data showed that the recession worsened in Q3. As a consequence, the BRL and interest rates have been under pressure and we see no clear signs that the turmoil will ease soon.
On the face of it, the surge in retail sales volumes in September suggests that the U.K. consumer is in fine fettle and can prevent the economic recovery from losing momentum as exporters struggle and government spending retrenches. But the underlying picture is less encouraging and consumers won't be able to sustain the recent robust growth in real spending when inflation revives next year.
Japan will host the Olympics in 2020 and the preparatory surge in construction investment makes 2017-to-2018 the peak spending period.
Yesterday's advance consumer sentiment index in the Eurozone confirmed the upside risks for consumers' spending in Q4. The headline index rose to a 17- year high of +0.1 in November, from -1.0 in October.
The Monetary Policy Committee chose to keep its options open in the minutes of this week's meeting, rather than signal as clearly as it did last year that interest rates will rise very soon.
The recent deceleration in households' real spending means that either business investment or net exports will have to pickup if the economy is to avoid a severe slowdown this year.
Over the past few days we have written about the difference between the Fed's tactics--signalling rate hikes and then choosing not to act in the face of weaker data--and its strategy, which is to normalize rates in the expectation that inflation will head to 2% in the medium-term.
Sterling jumped last week to its highest level against the dollar since last October in response to news that a general election will be held on June 8. Markets are betting that the Conservative Government will sharply increase its majority, enabling Theresa May to ignore Eurosceptic backbenchers when she strikes a deal with the EU.
In November, existing home sales substantially overshot the pace implied by the pending home sales index.
Eurozone consumer confidence remained at its low for the year at the start of Q3.
Now that the holidays are just a distant memory, the distortions they cause in an array of economic data are fading. The problems are particularly acute in the weekly data -- mortgage applications, chainstore sales and jobless claims -- because Christmas Day falls on a different day of the week each year.
Yesterday's detailed German GDP report raised more questions than it answered. The headline confirmed that growth accelerated to 0.4% quarteron- quarter in Q4, from 0.1% in Q3, leaving the year-over- year rate unchanged at 1.7%.
Sentiment in Germany has improved slightly this month with the IFO business climate index rising to 106.8 from 106.7 in January, pushed higher by a small increase in the expectations index.
CPI inflation remained at 0.3% in February, below the consensus, 0.4%, and our own expectation, 0.5%. All the unexpected weakness, however, was in food and core goods prices, and past movements in commodity and import prices suggest that this will be fleeting
The bad news just keeps coming for Brazil's economy. The mid-month CPI, the IPCA-15 index, rose 1.2% month-to-month in March. Soaring energy prices remain the key contributor to the inflation story in Brazil, pushing up the housing component by 2.8% in March, after a 2.2% increase in February.
Germans head to the polls on Sunday to elect representatives for the national parliament. The media has tried to keep investors on alert for a surprise, but polls indicate clearly that Angela Merkel will continue as Chancellor.
The hawks clearly tried hard to persuade their more nervous colleagues to raise rates yesterday. In the end, though, they had to make do with shifting the language of the FOMC statement, which did not read like it had come after a run of weaker data.
Japan's all-industry activity index fell 0.5% month-on- month in September after a 0.2% rise in August. Construction activity continued to plummet, with the subindex dropping 2.3%, after a 2.2% fall in August.
April's retail sales figures, due Thursday, likely will show that spending recovered from snow-induced weakness in March.
The remarkably strong existing home sales numbers in recent months, relative to the pending home sales index, are hard to explain. In January, total sales reached 5.69M, some 6% higher than the 5.35M implied by December's pending sales index. The gap between the series has widened in recent months, as our first chart shows, and we think the odds now favor a correction in today's February report.
February's consumer price figures provided hard evidence that the import price shock, caused by sterling's depreciation last year, is filtering through faster than the MPC expected. We expect CPI inflation to continue to exceed the forecast set out in February's Inflation Report.
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.
The Governor's comments late last week successfully recalibrated markets, which had concluded that a May rate hike was virtually certain, despite the MPC's deliberately vague guidance.
Japan's CPI inflation was unchanged in June, at 0.7%, despite strong upward pressure from energy inflation.
A couple of Fed speakers this week have described the economy as being at "full employment". Looking at the headline unemployment rate, it's easy to see why they would reach that conclusion.
Today's data likely will show that EZ households' sentiment remained close to a record high at the start of the year.
The knee-jerk reaction of the stock market to the unexpectedly high hourly earnings growth number for January was predicated on two connected ideas.
Yesterday's German IFO survey broadly confirmed the bullish message from the PMIs earlier this week. The headline business climate index rose to 111.0 in February from a revised 109.9 in January, boosted by increases in both the current assessment and the expectations index.
GDP data for Q2 are due July 26; we expect the report to show a marginal dip in growth, to a seasonally adjusted 0.8% quarter-on-quarter, from 1.0% in Q1.
China's service sector slowed again in June, with the Caixin PMI falling to 51.6 from 52.8 in May. The Q2 average of 52.0 was only minimally lower than the 52.6 in Q1.
...The Fed did nothing, surprising no-one; the labor market tightened further; the housing market tracked sideways; survey data mostly slipped a bit; and oil prices jumped nearly $4, briefly nudging above $50 for the first time since May.
We were a bit disappointed by the November ADP employment report, though a 190K reading in the 102nd month of a cyclical expansion is hardly a disaster.
Everything but the weather points to a strong headline payroll number for March. Our composite leading payroll indicator has signalled robust job growth since last fall, and the message for March is very clear.
Over the past six months, payroll growth has averaged exactly 150K. Over the previous six months, the average increase was 230K. And in the six months to August 2015--a fairer comparison, because the fourth quarter numbers enjoy very favorable seasonals, flattering the data--payroll growth averaged 197K.
The Caixin services PMI fell to 51.5 in August, from 52.8 in July.
The EZ retail sector slowed at the start of Q3, though only slightly.
Unless Boeing received a huge aircraft order on November 30, we can now be pretty sure that most of October's 4.6% leap in headline durable goods orders reversed last month. Through November 29, Boeing booked orders for 34 aircraft, compared to 85 in October. Moreover, the bulk of the orders were for relatively low value 737s, whereas the October numbers were boosted by a surge in orders for 787s, whose list price is about three times higher.
In terms of one-day moves, the drop in U.S. equities yesterday and Asian equities in the past two days has been pretty bad.
As recently as late 2008, the share of employee compensation in GDP was slightly higher than the average for the previous 20 years. But it would be wrong to argue, therefore, that the squeeze on labor is a phenomenon only of the past few years. It's certainly true that labor's share dropped precipitously from 2009 through 2011, and has risen only marginally since then.
The Mexican economy maintained its relatively strong momentum in Q2. The first estimate of Q2 GDP, released last week, confirmed that growth was resilient during the first half of this year, despite the confidence hit caused by domestic and external headwinds.
In the absence of market-moving data today, we want to take a closer look at the labor market, and, specifically, the idea that payroll growth is slowing because firms cannot find staff they consider suitably qualified for the jobs available. Every indicator of labor demand, with the sole exception of manufacturing-specific surveys, is consistent with very rapid payroll growth, well in excess of 200K per month.
The two major EZ economic reports released while we were away conformed to the consensus. Advance data suggest that real GDP in the euro area rose 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, the same pace as in Q2, and the year-over-year rate was similarly unchanged at 1.6%.
ADP's reported 158K increase in private payrolls was very close to our model-based estimate, so it doesn't change our 220K forecast for todays official payroll number, well above the 177K consensus.
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.
We would be quite surprised if today's official payroll number exceeded the 135K ADP reading; a clear undershoot is much more likely.
The 351K net increase in payrolls reported Friday--a 261K October gain and a 90K total revision to August and September--puts the labor market back on track after the hurricanes temporarily hit the data.
The ADP private sector employment number was a bit weaker than we expected in May, and the undershoot relative to our forecast has pulled down our model's estimate for today's official number
First, a deep breath: June payrolls, with a margin of error of +/-107K, missed the consensus by 10K. Adding in the -60K revisions and the miss is still statistically insignificant. The story, therefore, is that there is no story. Even relative to our more bullish forecast, the miss was just 37K. Nothing bad happened in June. But we hav e to acknowledge that payroll growth has now undershot the pace implied by the NFIB's hiring intentions number--lagged by five months--in each of the past four months. In June, the survey pointed to a 320K jump in private employment, overshooting the actual print by nearly 100K.
It's hard to have much conviction in any forecast for September retail sales, as the relationship between the official data and the surveys has weakened considerably.
The jump in the Caixin services PMI in the past two months looks erratic, with holiday effects playing a role, though there could be more going on here.
The odds favor a robust January payroll report today. The key leading indicator--the NIFB hiring intentions index from five months ago--points to a 275K increase, while the coincident NFIB actual employment change index suggests 260K.
Consumers' spending in the euro area weakened at the end of Q4, but we think households will continue to boost GDP growth in the first quarter. Data on Friday showed that retail sales fell 0.3% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 1.1%, from a revised 2.8% in November.
Eurozone consumers had a slow start to the second quarter. Retail sales increased a modest 0.1% month- to-month in April, but the March headline was revised up by 0.3 percentage points, and the year-over-year rate increased by 0.2pp to 1.7% due to base effects.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
Fed Chair Yellen's speech Friday was remarkably blunt: "Indeed, at our meeting later this month, the Committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with our expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate."
Markets have interpreted the Monetary Policy Committee's "Super Thursday" releases as an endorsement of their view that interest rates will remain on hold for another year. We think the Committee's communications were more nuanced and believe the door is still open to an interest rate rise in the second quarter of next year.
Survey data continue to suggest that GDP growth will accelerate in Q1. The final PMI reports on Friday showed that the headline EZ composite index rose to 56.0 in February, from 54.4 in January, in line with the first estimate.
Our base forecast for today's February payroll number is an unspectacular 220K, though if you twist our arms we'd probably say that we'd be less surprised by a big overshoot to this estimate than an undershoot. The single biggest argument against a big print today is simply that February payrolls have initially been under-reported in each of the past five years and then revised higher.
We chose last week to ignore the payroll warning signal from the ISM non-manufacturing employment index, which rolled over in January and February, because the danger seemed to have passed. The ISM is not always a reliable indicator--the drop in the index in early 2014 was not replicated in the official data, but the plunge in early 2015 was--and usually it operates with a very short lag, just a month or two.
The run-up to the release of the official retail sales figures has become so congested with other indicators, following alterations by the ONS to its publication schedule, that we now have to preview the data earlier than usual.
The first thing to ask after a payroll number far from consensus is whether it is supported by other evidence. We are happy to argue that November's blockbuster report is indeed consistent with a range of other numbers, notwithstanding the unfortunate truth that there are no reliable indicators of payrolls on a month-to-month basis.
The rollover in bank lending to commercial and industrial companies probably is over. On the face of it, the slowdown has been alarming, with year-over-year growth in the stock of lending slowing to just 2.6% in April, from a sustained peak of more than 10% in the early part of last year.
The headline changes in yesterday's ECB policy announcement were largely as expected. The central bank left its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively, and maintained the pace of QE at €60B per month. The central bank also delivered the two expected changes to its introductory statement. The reference to "lower levels" was removed from the forward guidance on rates, signalling that the ECB does not expect that rates will be lowered anytime soon.
The Banxico minutes from the June 20 meeting, released last Thursday, offered more detail about the outlook for policy in the near term.
The recent softening in the ISM employment indexes failed to make itself felt in the June payroll numbers, which sailed on serenely even as tariff-induced chaos intensified at the industry and company level.
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.
China's official manufacturing PMI slipped in June, but the overall picture for Q2 is sound despite the uncertainty posed by rising trade tensions with the U.S.
In the wake of the February employment report, the implied probability of a June rate hike, measured by the fed funds future, jumped to 89% from 71%. The market now shows the chance of a funds rate at 75bp by the end of the year at just over 60%. That still looks low to us, but it is a big change and we very much doubt it represents the end of the shift in expectations.
We expected a consensus-beating ADP employment number for February, but the 298K leap was much better than our forecast, 210K. The error now becomes an input into our payroll model, shifting our estimate for tomorrow's official number to 250K; our initial forecast was 210K.
We expect August's GDP figures, released on Wednesday, to show that month-to-month growth slowed to 0.1%, from 0.3% in July.
The dip in payroll growth in September was due to Hurricane Florence. We expect a clear rebound in payrolls in October; our tentative forecast is 250K.
Britain's productivity problem has been building under the surface for years, but it is set to be more pertinent now that the economy is close to full employment.
At a stroke, the October payroll report returned the short-term trend in payroll growth to the range in place since 2011, pushed the unemployment rate into the lower part of the Fed's Nairu range, and lifted the year-over-year rate of growth of hourly earnings to a six-year high. The FOMC has never quantitatively defined what it means by "some further improvement in the labor market", its condition for increasing rates, but if the October report does not qualify, it's hard to know what might fit the bill. We expect a 25bp increase in December.
We predict no major policy changes at the ECB today. We think the central bank will leave its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively. We also expect the ECB will leave the pace of QE unchanged at €60 per month until December 2017, at least.
Last week's data supported our view that monetary policy across LatAm will continue to diverge in the short term. Brazil will have to prolong its monetary tightening cycle, while economies such as Colombia and Chile will remain on hold despite the recent slowdowns in their economic cycle.
It's always easy to find reasons to doubt single monthly observations of any economic time series, but our first chart makes it very clear that the labor market has strengthened markedly over the past few months. The underlying trend rate of growth in private payrolls is now above 300K for the first time in exactly 20 years, and we seen no reason to expect much change over the next few months.
The ECB will keep all its policy parameters unchanged today. The refi and deposit rates will be maintained at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and the pace of QE will stay at €60B per month, running until the end of the year.
This week's MPC meeting and Inflation Report likely will support the dominant view in markets that the chances of a 2017 rate hike are remote, even though inflation will rise further above the 2% target over the coming months. Overnight index swap markets currently are pricing-in only a 20% chance of an increase in Bank Rate this year.
Favourable inflation conditions in Mexico remain in place with June consumer prices increasing just 0.1% month-to-month, unadjusted, better than expected. A modest gain in core prices was largely offset by falling non-core prices, so year-over-year inflation edged down to 2.5% from 2.6% in May.
We have had a modest rethink of our June payroll forecast and have nudged up our number to 150K, still below the 180K consensus. Our forecast has changed because we have re-estimated some of our models, not because of the 172K increase in the ADP measure of private payrolls. ADP is a model-based estimate, not a reliable survey indicator.
German manufacturing data are all over the place at the moment. Earlier this week, data showed that new orders jumped toward the end of 2016, but yesterday's industrial production report was a shocker. Output plunged 3.0% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -0.7% from a revised +2.3% in November.
We aren't perturbed by the undershoot in December payrolls, relative both to the October and November numbers and all the leading indicators.
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%.
The process of refinancing existing mortgages at ever-lower interest rates has been a boon for the economy in recent years.
We are a bit more optimistic than the consensus on the question of second quarter productivity growth, but the data are so unreliable and erratic that the difference between our 1.2% forecast and the 0.7% consensus estimate doesn't mean much.
Colombia's economy has continued to slow, due mainly to lagged effect of the oil price shock since mid-2014, and stubbornly high inflation, which has triggered painful monetary tightening. Modest fiscal expansion and capital inflows have helped to avoid a hard landing, but the economy is still feeling the pain of weakening domestic demand. And the twin deficits--though improving--remain a threat.
China has a nuclear option in the face of pressure from U.S. tariffs, namely, to devalue the currency.
March payrolls were constrained by both the impact of colder and snowier weather than usual in the survey week, and a correction in the construction and retail components, which were unsustainably strong in February.
The soft-looking August payroll number almost certainly will be revised up substantially, as the readings for this month have been in each of the past six years. Runs of remarkably consistent revisions--from 53K to 104K, with a median of 66K--don't happen by chance very often. A far more likely explanation is that the seasonal adjustments are flawed, having failed to keep up with changes in employment patterns since the crash. If the median revision is a good guide to what happens this year, the August number will be pushed up to 240K, in line with our estimate of the underlying trend and much more closely aligned with the message from a host of leading indicators.
Chilean GDP growth hit bottom in August, but activity is now picking up and will gather speed over the coming quarters. The tailwinds from lower oil prices and fiscal stimulus will soon be visible in the activity data.
Consumers' spending in the Eurozone stalled at the start of Q4. Retail sales slid 1.1% month-to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate down to a four-year low of 0.4%, from an upwardly-revised 4.0% jump in September.
Chair Yellen's final FOMC meeting today will be something of a non-event in economic terms.
December's money and credit figures suggest that households are in no fit state to step up and drive the economy forwards this year.
Today will be an incredibly busy day for EZ investors with no fewer than eight major economic reports. Overall, we think the data will tell a story of a stable business cycle upturn and rising inflation. Markets will focus on advance Q4 GDP data in France and in the euro area as a whole. Our mo dels, and survey data, indicate that the EZ economy strengthened at the end of 2016, and we expect the headline data to beat the consensus.
The upward trend in German inflation stalled temporarily in August, with an unchanged 0.4% year-over-year reading in August. A dip in core inflation likely offset a continued increase in energy price inflation. The detailed final report next month will give the full story, but state data suggest that the core rate was depressed by a dip in price increases of household appliances, restaurant services, as well as "other goods and services."
Yesterday's relatively good news--we discuss the implications of the August trade data below--will be followed by rather more mixed reports today. We hope to see a partial rebound, at least, in the September Chicago PMI, but we fully expect soft August consumer spending data.
Yesterday's advance CPI data in Germany suggest that inflation fell slightly in August.
The jobless rate fell back to 2.8% in June after the surprise rise to 3.1% in May. This drop takes us back to where we were in April before voluntary unemployment jumped in May.
The pullback in CPI inflation in June and continued slow GDP growth in Q2 mean that the MPC almost certainly will keep Bank Rate at 0.25% on Thursday.
Today's advance EZ CPI report likely will show that inflation pressures eased in May. We think inflation slipped to 1.5% year-over-year, from 1.9% in April, as the boost to the core rate from the late Easter faded.
Many investors probably glossed over yesterday's barrage of data in the Eurozone, for fear of being caught out by another swoon in Italian bond yields. Don't worry, we are here to help.
We now have consumption data for two-thirds of the first quarter, making it is easy to see that a near-herculean spending effort is required to lift the quarter as a whole into anything like respectable territory. After February's 0.1% dip, real spending has to rise by at least 0.4% in March just to generate a 2.0% annualized gain for the quarter, and a 2.5% increase requires a 0.7% jump.
Japan's June retail sales data add to the run of numbers suggesting a strong rebound in real GDP growth in Q2, after the 0.2% contraction in activity in Q1.
The most important number, potentially, in today's wave of economic reports is the Employment Costs Index for second quarter.
Mexico's data over the last few weeks have confirmed our view that private consumption remains the key driver of the current economic cycle. Solid economic fundamentals, thanks to stimulative monetary policy and structural reforms, have supported the domestic economy in recent quarters. Falling inflation has also been a key driver, slowing to 2.5% by mid-September, a record low, from an average of 4% during 2014.
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.
Markets' expectations for official interest rates have shifted up over the last fortnight, and the consensus view now is that the MPC will hike rates before the end of this year. As our first chart shows, the implied probability of interest rates breaching 0.25% in December 2017 now slightly exceeds 50%.
The Caixin PMI likely remained stable or even strengthened in January. The December jump was driven by the forward-looking components, with both the new export orders and total new orders indices picking up.
We are nervous about the first estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth, due today. The consensus forecast is a decent 3.1%, but we are struggling mightily to get anywhere near that.
Friday's advance GDP data provided the first solid evidence of a Q1 slowdown in the euro area economy.
Markets were surprised yesterday by the absence of hawkish comments or guidance accompanying the MPC's decision to raise interest rates to 0.50%, from 0.25%.
The BoJ kept policy unchanged last week, but made a significant change to its communication, dropping its previous explicit statement on the timing for hitting the inflation target.
The 0.18% increase in the core PCE deflator in December was at the lower end of the range implied by the core CPI. It left the year-over-year rate at just 1.5%.
Economic data in Mexico continue to come in strong.
Advance data from Germany and Spain indicate that Eurozone inflation rebounded in October. We think inflation rose to 0.2% year-over-year from -0.2%, and German data suggest the main boost will come from both core and food inflation. Inflation in Germany rose to 0.3% year-over-year from 0.0% in September, lifted by an increase in inflation of leisure and entertainment, hotels and durable goods. Food inflation also rose to 1.6% from 1.1% in September, due to surging prices for fresh fruit and vegetables.
We have been asked by a few readers how much confidence we have in our forecast of a 1% rebound in the third quarter employment costs index, well above the 0.6% consensus and the mere 0.2% second quarter gain. The answer, unfortunately, is not much, though we do think that the balance of risks to the consensus is to the upside.
Markets expect the Fed will fail to follow through on its current intention to raise rates twice more this year and three times next year. Part of this skepticism reflects recent experience.
The Conservatives' opinion poll rating has fallen dramatically over the last 10 days or so, pushing sterling down and forcing investors to confront the possibility that Theresa May might not increase her majority much from the current paltry 17 MPs.
February's money and credit figures supported recent labour market and retail sales data suggesting that consumers are increasingly financially strained. Households' broad money holdings increased by just 0.2% month-to-month in February, half the average pace of the previous six months.
In yesterday's Monitor we suggested that China's profits surge has been party dependent on developers' risky debt issuance practices.
Today's advance Q3 GDP report for Mexico will show that the economy performed relatively well at the start of the second half, despite external and domestic shocks.
Friday's economic data in Germany suggest that households had a slow start to the year.
The ADP employment report for September showed private payrolls rose by 135K, trivially better than we expected.
China's National People's Congress is set to convene its annual meeting next week.
Data released last week confirmed the strength of the economic recovery in Chile, and we expect further good news in the next three-to-six months.
The Conservatives' opinion poll lead continued to decline over the last week, suggesting that a landslide victory on Thursday no longer is likely. Indeed, the Tories' average lead over Labour in the 10 most recent opinion polls has fallen to just 6%, down from a peak of nearly 20% a month ago.
If you were looking just at investor sentiment in the Eurozone, you would conclude that the economy is in recession.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone will rekindle the debate on hard versus soft data. The final composite PMI rose to 56.7 in September, from 55.7 in August, in line with the first estimate.
Japan's Nikkei services PMI dropped to 51.0 in September from 51.6 in August, continuing the downtrend since June. For Q3 as a whole, the headline averaged 51.5, down from 52.8 in Q2; that's a clear loss of momentum.
We are not worried, at all, by the slowdown in headline payroll growth to 157K in July from an upwardly-revised 248K in June.
The ADP measure of private employment hugely overstated the official measure of payrolls in September, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, but then slightly understated the October number.
China's PMIs point to softening activity in Q3. The Caixin services PMI fell to 52.8 in July, from 53.9 in June.
Your correspondent is on the slopes this week, but the employment report deserves a preview nonetheless.
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.
Investors in Mexico likely will focus early this week on yesterday's gubernatorial election results in Nayarit, Coahuila and the State of Mexico. The latter is especially important, because it is viewed as a possible guide to the 2018 presidential election.
We don't believe that payrolls rose only 138K in May. History strongly suggests that when the May payroll survey is conducted relatively early in the month, payroll growth falls short of the prior trend.
Data yesterday showed that Momentum in the EZ retail sector stumbled through middle of Q2.
The May employment report was somewhat overshadowed by the furor over the president's tweet, at 7.15AM, hinting--more than hinting--that the numbers would be good.
German inflation surged in December, pointing to an upside surprise in today's advance EZ report. The headline inflation rate rose to a three-year high of 1.7% year-over-year in December, from 0.8% in November. This was the biggest increase in the year- over-year rate since 1993.
Japan's labour market is already tight, but last week's data suggest it is set to tighten further.
The Tankan survey--published on Monday--points to still buoyant sentiment, a further tightening of the labour market, and building inflation pressures.
We're expecting to see November payrolls up by about 200K this morning, but our forecast takes into account the likelihood that the initial reading will be revised up. In the five years through 2014, the first estimate of November payrolls was revised up by an average of 73K by the time o f the third estimate. Our forecast for today, therefore, is consistent with our view that the underlying trend in payrolls is 250K-plus. That's the message of the very low level of jobless claims, and the strength of all surveys of hiring, with the exception of the depressed ISM manufacturing employment index. Manufacturing accounts for only 9% of payrolls, though, so this just doesn't matter.
The Eurozone enjoyed a strong start to 2017. Yesterday's advance data showed that real GDP rose 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, a similar pace to Q4, which was revised up by 0.1 percentage points. The year-over-year rate dipped to 1.7%, from an upwardly revised 1.8% in Q4.
April payroll growth likely will be reported at close to 200K. Overall, the survey evidence points to a stronger performance, but they don't take account of weather effects, and April was a bit colder and snowier than usual. We're not expecting a big weather hit, but some impact seems a reasonable bet.
Data yesterday showed that consumers in the euro area increased their spending in February, following recent weakness. Retail sales rose 0.7% month-to-month in February, reversing the cumulative 0.4% decline since November. The year-over-year rate was pushed higher to 1.8% from an upwardly revised 1.5% in January.
Headline Eurozone PMI data have declined steadily since the beginning of the year, but the June numbers stopped the rot.
Brazil's economy likely will bounce back during the second half of this year and into 2018, after the second quarter was marred by political risk.
We have no reason to think the underlying trend in payroll growth has changed--the 235K average for the past three months is as good a guide as any--but the balance of risks points clearly to a rather lower print for August. Two specific factors, neither of which have any bearing on the trend, are likely to have a significant influence on the numbers, and both will work to push the number below the 217K consensus.
For analysts with a broadly positive view of the U.S. economy, it is tempting to argue that the slowdown in payroll growth this year reflects supply constraints, as the pool of qualified labor dries up.
The forward-looking indices of China's Caixin manufacturing PMI for April attracted more attention than the headline, which was a bit of a non-event; it rose trivially 51.1, from 51.0 in March.
The incidence of the phrase "since the early nineties" has increased sharply in our Japan reports this year.
Japan's GDP growth came roaring back in Q2, thanks to a strong rebound in private consumption, and an acceleration in business capex.
Japan's PPI inflation edged up further in November to 3.5%, from October's 3.4%. Energy was the main driver, with petroleum and coal contributing 0.8 percentage points to the year-over-year rate, up from a 0.7pp contribution in October.
The jump in core inflation in recent months is about as alarming as the sudden decline in the same period last year; that is, not very.
Whatever happened to consumers' sentiment in March, the level of University of Michigan's index will be very high, relative to its long-term average.
The key piece of evidence supporting our view that housing market activity has peaked for this cycle is the softening trend--until recently--in applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase.
Today's rate hike will be accompanied by a new round of Fed forecasts, which will have to reflect the faster growth and lower unemployment than expected back in September.
The pick-up in CPI inflation to 3.1% in November--its highest rate since March 2012-- from 3.0% in October, shouldn't alarm the MPC at this week's meeting.
Over the last decade, the MPC has underestimated the extent and duration of departures of CPI inflation from the 2% target. Inflation exceeded the MPC's expectations in the early 2010s, as policymakers underestimated the impact of sterling's prior depreciation and overestimated the role that slack would play in stifling price pressures. Inflation also undershot the MPC's forecast between 2014 and 2016, when sterling's appreciation reduced import prices.
Yesterday's economic data in Brazil suggest that retailers suffered in the second quarter, hit by the effect of the truckers' strike, but private consumption remains somewhat resilient.
Within the next few month, and perhaps as soon as next month, the gap between the headline NFIB and ISM manufacturing indexes, shown in our first chart, will close for the first time since late 2008.
Our argument that rates could rise as soon as March has always been contingent on two factors, namely, robust labor market data and a degree of clarity on the extent of fiscal easing likely to emerge from Congress. On the first of these issues, the latest evidence is mixed.
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.
The key labor market numbers from the monthly NFIB survey of small businesses are released ahead of the main report, due today.
The imposition of 10% tariffs on $200B-worth of Chinese imports is not a serious threat either to U.S. economic growth--the tariffs amount to 0.1% of GDP--or inflation.
Chair Yellen has become quite good at not giving much away at her semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony.
For the past six years, the PCE measure of core inflation has undershot the CPI version. The average spread between the two year-over-year rates since January 2011 has been 0.3 percentage points, and as far as we can tell most observers expect it to be little changed for the foreseeable future.
Economic data in the German economy have been record-breaking in the past 12 months, and yesterday's preliminary full-year GDP report for 2017 was no exception.
The strength in payrolls in recent months is real. The three-month moving average increase in private payrolls now stands at 280K, despite adverse seasonal adjustments totalling 91K in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period last year.
Apart from a slew of economic data--see here and here--two important things happened in Germany last week.
China faces three possible macro outcomes over the next few years. First, the economy could pull off an active transition to consumer-led growth. Second, it could gradually slide into Japan-style growth and inflation, with government debt spiralling up. Third, it could face a full blown debt crisis, where the authorities lose control and China drags the global economy down too
We continue to expect core CPI inflation to drift up further over the course of this year, partly because of adverse base effects running through November, but it's hard to expect a serious acceleration in the monthly run rate when the rate of increase of unit labor costs is so low.
CPI data today in France and Germany will confirm that current inflation rates remain very low in the euro area. Inflation in Germany likely rose to 0.3% year-over-year from 0.0% in September, in line with the consensus and initial estimate. State data indicate that the rise was driven by surging fresh food prices and slightly higher services inflation, principally due to a jump in the volatile recreation and culture sector. Looking ahead, food prices will drop back, but energy inflation will rise rapidly as last year's plunge drops out of the year-over-year comparison, while upward core pressure is now emerging too.
Oil prices remain sticky, poised to hover close to a four-year high for the rest of the year.
Friday's industrial production headlines in the Eurozone were weak, but the details tell a more nuanced story.
One critical point emerged from last week's otherwise uneventful BoJ meeting: Governor Kuroda said that the BoJ might "adjust" rates before hitting the 2% inflation target.
It's hard to find anything to dislike in the February employment report.
The final June inflation report from Germany yesterday confirmed that pressures are rising. Inflation rose to 0.3% year-over-year in June, up from 0.1% in May, mainly due to higher energy prices. Household energy prices--utilities--fell 4.9% year-over-year, up from a 5.7% decline in May, while deflation in petrol prices eased to -9.4%, up from -12.1% in May.
Evidence that Brazil's consumption recession has hit bottom seemed to vanish yesterday with the May retail sales report. Sales plunged 1.0% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-rate down to a terrible-looking -9.0%, from a revised -6.9% in April. Adding insult to injury, the month-to-month number for April was revised down by 0.2 percentage points.
Brazil's consumer recession seems never-ending. Retail sales fell 0.8% month-to-month in October, pushing the headline year-over-year rate down to -8.2% in October, from -5.7% in September. Recent financial market volatility, credit restrictions and the ongoing deterioration of the labour market continue to hurt consumers.
Today's labour market figures likely will bring further signs that firms are recruiting more cautiously and limiting pay awards, due to still-elevated economic uncertainty.
November's consumer prices figures, released tomorrow, look set to show that the U.K.'s spell of negative inflation has ended. CPI inflation is set to pick-up decisively over the coming months, even if oil prices continue to drift down. In fact, fuel prices likely will contribute to the pick-up in inflation from October's -0.1% rate. November's 1.5% fall in prices at the pump was smaller than the 2.3% drop in the same month last year, so the year-over-year rate will rise. Fuel's contribution to CPI inflation therefore will pick up, albeit very marginally, to -0.47pp from -0.50pp in October.
Turkey has all the problems you don't want to see in an emerging market when the U.S. is raising interest rates.
July's fifth straight undershoot to consensus in the core CPI was very different the previous four. Only one component--lodging away from home--prevented the first 0.2% month-to-month print since February.
The consensus for a mere 0.3% month-to-month rise in retail sales volumes in November looks too timid; we anticipate a 0.7% gain.
Japanese headline PPI inflation will edge higher in coming months as last year's rise in oil prices feeds through. But inflation in manufacturing goods, excluding processing, is microscopic and should soon roll over as pipeline pressures wane.
A huge wave of data will break over markets this week, along with the FOMC meeting, new dot plots and Chair Yellen's press conference. But today is calm, with no significant data releases and no Fed speeches; policymakers are in purdah ahead of the meeting.
With just days to go until the Government triggers Article 50, the consensus view remains that Britain is heading for a "hard" Brexit, which will leave it without unrestricted access to the single market and outside the customs union. We think this view overlooks how political pressures likely will change over the next two years.
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.
Markets' judgement that the Monetary Policy Committee--which meets today--will wait until 2017 to raise interest rates overestimates the role that the drop in oil prices and slower GDP growth will play in its decision-making. The inflation risks emanating from the increasingly tight labour market still could motivate a tightening before the summer.
Today's Eurozone data will provide further details on what happened in Q4. Advance data suggest that industrial production rose a modest 0.1% month- to-month, lifting the year-over-year rate to 4.3% in December, from 3.9% in November.
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.
China's M2 growth slowed to 8.2% year-over-year in August, from 8.5% in July
Mr. Draghi's speech to the European Banking Congress on Friday--see here--was a timely reminder to markets that the ECB is in no hurry to make any changes to its policy setting.
The underlying health of the construction sector isn't as poor as today's official output figures likely will imply. Nonetheless, growth in construction output, which accounts for 6% of GDP, probably won't return to the stellar rates seen in 2013 and 2014, and the sector can't be relied upon to provide much support to overall growth.
Germany's external surplus remained resilient at the start of the year. Data on Friday showed that the seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose marginally to €18.5B in January, from a revised €18.3B in December.
Industrial production in the Eurozone fell a disappointing 0.1% month-on-month in January, driven by low output in Italy and Germany, as well as a large drop in Finland. But December production was revised up to 0.3% month-to-month, from the initially estimated 0.0%.
For more than two years, the BoJ has fretted, in the outlook for economic activity and prices, that "there are items for which prices are not particularly responsive to the output gap."
Overall, the Chinese October data paint a picture of continued weakness in trade, with PPI inflation still high but the rate of increase finally slowing.
As a general rule, faster productivity growth is always good news.
Now that the run of unfavorable base effects in the core CPI--triggered by five straight soft numbers last year--is over, we're expecting little change in the year- over-year rate through the remainder of this year.
In theory, the headline labour market data in France should be a source of comfort and support for the new government.
Japanese PPI inflation continues to be driven mainly by imported metals and energy price inflation. Metals, energy, power and water utilities, and related items, account for nearly 30% of the PPI.
Brazil's retail sales data undershot consensus in August, falling by 0.5% after four straight gains. But we think this merely a temporary softening, following the strong performance in recent months.
The downturn in equity prices deepened yesterday, with the FTSE 100 index closing at 5,537, 22% below its April 2015 peak. We remain unconvinced, however, that financial market turmoil is set to push the U.K. economy into a recession. We continue to take comfort from the weakness of the past relationship between equity prices and economic activity.
Chinese monetary conditions show signs of a temporary stabilisation. M2 growth picked up to 9.1% year-over-year in November from 8.8% in October, though largely as a correction for understated growth in recent months.
March's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, look set to show that inflation's ascent was kept in check by the later Easter this year compared to last. Nonetheless, CPI inflation will take big upward strides over the coming months, and it likely will exceed 3% by the summer.
It's probably too soon to expect to see a meaningful reaction in the NFIB small business survey to the drop in stock prices, but it likely is coming, and a hit in today's March report can't be ruled out entirely.
The BLS offered no estimate of the impact on payrolls of the snowstorm which hit the Northeast during the March survey week, but it appears to have been substantial. All the leading indicators pointed to a solid 200K-plus reading, more than double the official initial estimate, 98K.
MPC member Michael Saunders, who has voted to raise interest rates at the last two MPC meetings, argued in a speech yesterday that tighter monetary policy is required now partly because it affects the economy with a long lag.
A firmer picture is emerging of how Japan's economy fared in Q3, in light of the latest slew of data for August.
...The Fed told investors that it now requires only "some further improvement" in labor market conditions before starting to raise rates-- the "some" is new--but did not set out any specific conditions. With the unemployment rate now just a tenth above the top of the Fed's Nairu range, 5.0-to-5.2%, and very likely to dip into it by the time of the decision on September 17, while payroll growth is trending solidly above 200K per month, rates already would have been raised some time ago in previous cycles.
Slowly but surely, it is becoming respectable to argue that central bank policy in the developed world is part of the problem of slow growth, not the solution. We have worried for some time that the signal sent by ZIRP--that the economy is in terrible shape--is more than offsetting the cash-flow gains to borrowers.
Yesterday's CPI report in Mexico showed that inflation remains high, but we are confident that it will start to fall consistently during Q1, thanks chiefly to a favourable base effect.
The gratifyingly strong 222K headline June payroll gain, if repeated through the second half of the year, will put unemployment below 4% by December.
For some time now we have argued that collapse in capital spending in the oil sector was the source of most of the softening of activity in the manufacturing and wholesaling sectors last year.
Fed Chair Yellen today needs to strike a balance between addressing investors' concerns over the state of the stock market and the risks posed by slower growth in Asia, and the tightening domestic labor market.
Larry Summers stirred the pot yet again with an article in the FT at the weekend, arguing that because the Fed typically eases by more than 300bp to pull the economy out of recession, "the chances are very high that recession will come before there is room to cut rates enough to offset it". This follows from his view that the neutral level of real short rates has fallen so far that "the odds are the Fed will not be able to raise rates 100 basis points a year without threatening to undermine recovery".
Mexico's economy grew 1.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, the fastest pace since 2014, following a 0.2% contraction in Q2, according to the preliminary report published yesterday.
The BoJ kept monetary policy unchanged yesterday, as expected, with the signal coming through loud and clear: Japan's central bank will continue its aggressive easing policy until the inflation cows come home...
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.
Chile's economic sector survey, released on Monday, provides further evidence that the cyclical recovery in the economy continues, albeit at a moderate pace. On the demand side, the rebound is still in place, with retail sales jumping 2.0% month-to-month in February and the underlying trend firm.
Along with just about every other commentator and market participant, we have been wondering in recent months how longer Treasuries would react to the Fed starting to raise rates at the same time the ECB and BoJ are pumping new money into their economies via QE.
We are pretty bullish about the prospects for the economy this year, but we try not to let our core view interfere with our take on the individual indicators. And our analysis suggests that the odds strongly favor a "disappointing" headline payroll number today; we have revised down our forecast to 160K from our previous 175K estimate.
Brazil's recession has been severe, triggered by the downturn in the commodity cycle, which revealed the underlying structural weaknesses in the economy. This set off an acute shock in domestic demand, but it has bottomed in recent months and we now expect a gradual recovery to emerge.
It has become fashionable to argue that the combination of favorable yield differentials and abundant global liquidity, courtesy of the BoJ and the ECB, will keep Treasury yields very low for the foreseeable future; the 10-year could even establish itself below 2%.
Inflation in the Eurozone rose modestly last month. Yesterday's advance CPI report showed the headline rate rising to 0.6% year-over-year in November, from 0.5% in October, mainly because of a jump in fresh food inflation. Energy prices fell 1.1% year-over-year, slightly more than the 0.9% decline in October, but we expect a sharp increase over the next six months.
The Fed will do nothing today, but the FOMC's statement will re-affirm the intention to continue its "gradual" tightening.
We're expecting a 180K increase in today's May headline payroll number, a bit below the underlying trend--200K or so--for the second straight month.
A rebound in quarter-on-quarter growth in households' spending in Q2, following the slowdown to just 0.2% in Q1, looks less likely following April's money data.
Yesterday's advance EZ CPI report bolstered the ECB doves' case for only marginal adjustments to the language on forward guidance at next week's meeting. Inflation in the euro area fell to 1.4% in May, from 1.9% in April, constrained by almost all the key components.
The two major central banks of Asia have chosen hugely divergent policies. The BoJ has chosen to fix interest rates, while the PBoC appears set on preventing a meaningful depreciation of the currency.
Business investment has held up better than most economists--ourselves included--expected after the Brexit vote.
Recent economic indicators in Mexico have been relatively positive.
China's trade surplus has been trending down in the last two years.
Markets' inflation expectations have fallen in recent weeks, maintaining the trend seen over the previous 18 months. The fall in expectations for the next year or so is justified by the sharp fall in oil prices. But expectations for inflation further ahead have drifted down too, even though lower oil prices will have no effect on the annual comparison of prices beyond a year or so from now.
Back in April 2012, Janet Yellen--then Fed Vice-Chair--spoke in detail about the labor market and monetary policy. The key point of her labor market analysis was that it was impossible to know for sure how much of the increase in unemployment--at the time, the headline rate was 8.2%--was structural, and how much was cyclical.
The resilience and adaptability that the Chilean economy has shown over previous cycles has been tested repeatedly over the last year. Uncertainty on the political front, falling metal prices, and growing concerns about growth in China have been the key factors behind expectations of slowing GDP growth.
The resolution of tensions in Italy and aboveconsensus U.K. PMIs for May last week persuaded investors that the MPC likely will press on and raise interest rates soon.
The Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, but as usual after a widely-anticipated policy decision, most of our attention will be focused on what policymakers say about their actions, and how their views on the economy have changed.
Mexico's inflation nudged up to a fresh 16-year high in August, but the details of the report confirmed that underlying pressures are easing, in line with our core view.
The month-to-month core CPI numbers in March were consistent, in aggregate, with the underlying trend.
Chinese exports grew by just 5.5% in dollar terms year-over-year in August, down from 7.2% in July. Export growth continues to trend down, with a rise of just 0.2% in RMB terms in the three months to August compared to the previous three months, significantly slower than the 4.8% jump at the p eak in January.
The single most startling development in the labor market data in recent months is acceleration in labor force growth. The participation rate has risen only marginally, because employment has continued to climb too, but the absolute size of the labor force is now expanding at its fastest pace in nine years, up 1.9% in the year to September.
The undershoot in the April core CPI wasn't a huge surprise to us; the downside risk we set out in yesterday's Monitor duly materialized, with used car prices dropping by a hefty 1.6% month-to-month, subtracting 0.05% from the core index.
Japan's Q3 real GDP growth was revised up substantially to 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in the final read, compared with 0.3% in the preliminary report.
The 16-page document--see here--detailing the agreement allowing the EU and the U.K. to move forward in the Brexit negotiations is predictably tedious.
The French manufacturing sector slowed more than we expected in Q1.
Note: This updates our initial post-election thoughts, adding more detail to the fiscal policy discussion. Apologies for the density of the text, but there's a lot to say. Our core conclusions have not changed since the election result emerged. The biggest single economic policy change, by far, will be on the fiscal front.
April's Retail Sales Monitor from the British Chambers of Commerce, released yesterday, provided a powerful signal that households' spending rebounded in April, following a terrible Q1.
The key labor market numbers from today's February NFIB report on small businesses--hiring intentions and the proportion of firms with unfilled job openings--were released last week, as usual, ahead of the official jobs report.
For some time now, we have puzzled over the softness of small firms' capital spending intentions, as measured by the monthly NFIB survey.
We wrote last month about how the Caixin services PMI appeared to be missing the deterioration in several key services subsectors.
Neither the 33K drop in September payrolls nor the 0.5% jump in hourly earnings tells us anything about the underlying state of the labor market.
The medium-term trend in the volume of mortgage applications turned up in early 2015, but progress has not been smooth. The trend in the MBA's purchase applications index has risen by about 40% from its late 2014 low, but the increase has been characterized by short bursts of rapid gains followed by periods of stability.
Normal service appears to have resumed in August, with payrolls rising by 201K, very close to the 196K average over the previous year.
The Mexican economy's brightest spot continues to be private consumption.
We expected a modest correction in the number of job openings in July, following the surge over the previous few months, but instead yesterday's JOLTS report revealed that openings jumped by a mind-boggling 8.1% to a new record high. In the three months to July, the number of openings soared at a 35% annualized rate. As a result, the Beveridge Curve, which compares the number of openings to the unemployment rate, is now further than ever from normalizing after shifting out decisively in 2010.
Unemployment in France remains high, but the trend is turning. The mainland rate of joblessness fell to a five-year low of 8.6% in Q4, and yesterday's employment report continued the good news.
With rates now certain to rise this week, the real importance of the employment picture is what it says about the timing of the next hike. To be clear, we think the Fed will raise rates again in June, and will at that meeting add another dot to the plot, making four hikes this year.
In the short-term, all the housing data are volatile. But you can be sure that if the recent pace of new home sales is sustained, housing construction will rise.
To paraphrase recent correspondence: "How can you possibly believe, given the terrible run of economic data and the turmoil in the markets, that the Fed will raise rates in March/June/at all this year?" Well, to state the obvious, if markets are in anything like their current state at the time of the eight Fed meetings this year, they won't hike. That sort of sustained downward pressure and volatility would itself prevent action at the next couple of meetings, as did the turmoil last summer when the Fed met in September. And if markets were to remain in disarray for an extended period we'd expect significant feedback into the real economy, reducing--perhaps even removing--the need for further tightening.
Economic news in Europe continues to take a back-seat to volatility in politics. Yesterday's announcement by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May that she is seeking a snap general election on June 8th cast further doubt over what exactly Brexit will look like.
Yesterday's final CPI report confirmed that inflation in the EZ fell marginally in August, by 0.1 percentage points to 2.0%.
The Eurozone's external surplus weakened at the start of Q3.
The solid numbers for December mean that core inflation remains on track to breach 2?-?% this year, though probably not until the summer. Over the next few months, base effects will help to hold the core rate close to the December pace.
Evidence of slowing economic activity in Colombia continues to mount. Retail sales fell 2.0% year- over-rate in April, down from a revised plus 3.0% in March; and the underlying trend is falling. This year's consumption tax increase, low confidence, tight credit conditions, and rising unemployment continue to put private consumption under pressure.
The probability of a rate hike on June 14, as implied by the fed funds future, has dropped to 90%, from a peak of 99% on May 5.
The upturn in the Eurozone construction sector likely paused in Q3. Yesterday's August report showed that output fell 0.2% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate down to +1.6%, from a revised +2.8% in July.
Friday's data confirmed that inflation in the Eurozone slipped to a 14-month low of 1.1%, from 1.3% in January, 0.1 percentage points below the first estimate.
Data released last week in Brazil reinforced our view of a modest, final, interest rate cut this week, despite the recent strength of the USD and volatility in global markets.
Housing rents account for some 41% of the core CPI and 18% of the core PCE, making them hugely important determinants of the core inflation rate.
The MPC took an unprecedented step last week to pave the way for an interest rate rise.
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.
Trouble is brewing in the core inflation data, despite the benign-looking 0.17% increase in the June report, released Friday. If you annualize that rate indefinitely, core inflation will reach a steady state of 2.1%, so the Fed never needs to raise rates. Alas this only makes sense if you think that single monthly CPI numbers tell the whole truth, and that the fundamental forces acting on inflation are stable. Neither of these propositions is remotely true.
Friday's data in the Eurozone confirmed that inflation rose sharply last month. Headline inflation increased to 1.9%, from 1.2% in April, and core inflation also rose, by 0.4 percentage points to 1.1%.
Fed Chair Powell delivered no great surprises in his semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, but he did hint, at least, at the idea that interest rates might at some point have to rise more quickly than shown in the current dot plot: "... the FOMC believes that - for now - the best way forward is to keep gradually raising the federal funds rate [our italics]."
Momentum in the EZ auto sector rebounded at the end of the second quarter.
No subject in the EZ economy is a source of more dispute than Germany's ballooning current account surplus. The Economist recently identified he German surplus as a problem for the world economy.
Yesterday's labour market figures revealed that employment growth has picked up this year, despite the shadow cast over the medium-term economic outlook by Brexit. The 122K, or 0.4%, quarter-on-quarter rise in employment in Q1 was the biggest since Q2 2016.
CPI inflation surprised to the downside in April, falling to 0.3% from 0.5% in March. Both the consensus and ourselves expected the rate to hold steady. Nearly all of the surprise, however, was in airfares and clothing inflation, which were depressed, to a greater extent than we anticipated, by the shift in the timing of Easter and bad weather, respectively.
In September last year, headline CPI inflation stood at exactly zero. Today, we expect to see a 1.5% print, thanks mostly to the fading impact of falling energy prices.
You'd be hard-pressed to read the minutes of the September FOMC meeting and draw a conclusion other than that most policymakers are very comfortable with their forecasts of one more rate hike this year, and three next year.
A November interest rate rise is far from the done deal that markets still anticipate, even though CPI inflation rose to 3.0% in September from 2.9% in August.
CPI inflation held steady at -0.1% in October, matching its lowest rate since March 1960. We had expected the rate to tick down to -0.2%, but the rebound in clothing inflation in October, following a period of discounting in September, was larger than we had anticipated. Looking ahead, we can be fairly confident that CPI inflation will pic k up sharply over the coming months.
The rate that labour market slack is being absorbed has slowed, potentially giving the MPC breathing space to postpone the first rate rise beyond next month.
Retail sales fell back to earth in September, indicating that the pick-up in spending over the summer largely was a weather-related blip.
Japanese CPI inflation jumped to 0.7% in August from 0.4% in July. The ris e in prices over the last year, however, was mainly driven by food and energy.
The U.S. reached a trade agreement with Canada on Sunday, adding its northern neighbour to the pact sealed a month ago with Mexico.
The recent sell-off in Treasuries has not yet reached significant proportions.
China's Caixin manufacturing PMI was unchanged at 51.0 in October, continuing the sideways trend this year.
After a slew of media reports in recent days, we have to expect that the president will today announce that Fed governor Jerome Powell is his pick to replace Janet Yellen as Chair.
Argentina's government continues to show signs of reining in fiscal policy, with the primary budget balance improving steadily over the last year.
The biggest surprise in the recent inflation numbers has been the surge in the PCE measure of hospital services costs, where the year-over-year rate has jumped to 3.8% in February, an eight-year high, from just 1.3% in September.
Chile's central bank cut the policy rate 25bp last week to 3.0%, in line with consensus, amid easing inflationary pressures. The timing of the rate cut was no surprise; in January, the BCCh cut rates for the first time in more than two years, and kept a dovish bias.
If you gave us $100, we'd put $90 on inflation, headline and core, being higher a year from now than it is today. Our view, however, is not universally shared, and some commentators continue to argue that the U.S. faces deflation risks. Exhibit one for this view is our first chart, which shows a high correlation between the PPI for finished goods prices and the CPI inflation rate, ex-shelter.
For some time, the Fed has been locked in a loop of endless inaction. Every time the economic data improve and the Fed signals it is preparing to raise rates, either markets--both domestic and global-- react badly, and/or a patch of less good data appear. The nervous, cautious Yellen Fed responds by dialling back the talk of tightening, and markets relax again, until the next time.
German survey data did something out of character yesterday; they fell. The IFO business climate index declined to 117.2 in December from a revised 117.6 in November.
The 1.2% month-to-month fall in retail sales volumes in March undoubtedly was due mostly to the bad weather.
Sterling continued to recover last week, hitting its highest level against the dollar since October, despite a series of data releases indicating that the economy is losing momentum. Indeed, sterling was unscathed by the news on Friday that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowed to just 0.3% in Q1, from 0.7% in Q4.
The French presidential election campaign remains chaotic. Republican candidate François Fillon had to defend himself again yesterday as investigations into his potential misuse of public funds deepened. Mr. Fillon and his wife have now been summoned to court to explain themselves. Markets expected Mr. Fillon to resign as the Republican front-runner. Instead, he used his unscheduled media address to defiantly declare that he is staying in the race.
The FOMC did nothing yesterday and said nothing significantly different from its June statement, as was universally expected.
The labour market in the Eurozone continues slowly to improve. The unemployment rate fell to 10.7% in October from 10.8% in September, reaching its lowest level since 2013. The divergence in rates, however, between the major economies remains significant. Unemployment in France, Italy and Spain is still above 10%, but the advance German number continued their record-breaking form in November.
The Caixin manufacturing PMI rebounded to 51.1 in July from 50.4 in June, soundly beating the consensus for no change. The PMIs are seasonally adjusted but the data are much less volatile on our adjustment model. On our adjustment, the headline has averaged 50.9 so far this year, modestly higher than in the second half of last year.
A no-deal Brexit is a remote possibility. The U.K. government and EU are closing in on a deal and Brexiteers within the Conservative party have failed, so far, to trigger a confidence vote on Mrs. May's leadership.
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.
Expectations are running high that the MPC will strike a more hawkish tone today in the minutes of this month's meeting and in the quarterly Inflation Report. Investors are pricing in a 45% chance of the MPC raising interest rates before the end of 2017, up from 30% before the last Report in November.
The FOMC statement did enough to keep alive the idea that rates could rise in March, but the ball is now mostly in Congress' court. If a clear plan for substantial fiscal easing has emerged by the time of the meeting on March 15, policymakers can incorporate its potential impact on growth, unemployment and inflation into their forecasts, then a rate hike will be much more likely.
Inflation pressures are slowly, but surely, rising in the Eurozone. Advance data indicate that inflation in Germany rose to 0.7% year-over-year in May, up from 0.5% in April. Reduced drag from the non-core components is the main driver, with energy prices rebounding, and food prices now rising steadily at 1.4% year-over-year.
The economy slowed less than we expected in 2017.
China's official PMIs paint a picture of robust momentum going into 2018 but we find this difficult to reconcile with the other data.
Brazil's December industrial production and labour reports, released this week, confirmed that the recovery remained solidly on track at the end of last year.
May's activity data underline the weakness of Colombia's economic growth. Domestic demand still is under pressure due to the lagged effect of the deterioration in the terms of trade and other temporary shocks in 2016, and the VAT increase in January this year.
Iván Duque, the conservative candidate for the Democratic Centre Party, won the presidential election held in Colombia on Sunday.
The German inflation rate soared at the start of 2017, but it likely will fall in the next few months. Final February data yesterday showed that inflation rose to 2.2% in February, from 1.9% in January, consistent with the initial estimate. Since December, headline inflation in Germany, and in the EZ as a whole, has been lifted by two factors. Base effects from the 2016 crash in oil prices have pushed energy inflation higher, and a supply shock in fresh produce--due to heavy snowfall in southern Europe--has lifted food inflation.
The slowdown in households' income growth since the referendum has not pushed up mortgage default rates, so far. Employment grew by just 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 and 0.1% in Q4, well below the 0.5% average rate seen in the three years before the referendum.
Brazil's retail sales improved at the start of the second quarter, increasing 0.5% month-to-month in April, partially reversing the 0.9% contraction in March. But the details were less upbeat than the headline.
Private consumption remains resilient in Brazil and recent data suggest that growth will continue over the coming months.
The trend in retail sales no longer looks quite so flat, following yesterday's May report. The level of sales volumes in April was revised up by 0.3%.
The German economy fired on all cylinders at the beginning of the year. Advance data on Friday showed that real GDP rose 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, accelerating from a 0.4% increase in Q4.
We expect today's consumer price figures to show that CPI inflation remained at 1.0% in October, after jumping in September from 0.6% in August.
The remarkable recent strength in retail sales continued into November, with total sales volumes rising by 0.2% and sales ex-motor fuels up by 0.5%. Those numbers aren't spectacular but they have to be seen in the context of October's huge 1.9% jump in sales ex-motor fuel; usually, after such a big gain we'd expect a correction the following month.
Yesterday's euro area PMI data continue to tell a story of a firm business cycle upturn. The composite PMI was unchanged at 53.9 in December; an increase in the manufacturing index offset a decline in the services PMI.
The MPC surprised markets, and ourselves, yesterday with the escalation of its hawkish rhetoric in the minutes of its policy meeting.
China's September trade numbers show that, far from reducing the surplus with the U.S., the trade wars so far have pushed it up to a new record.
The headline CPI inflation rate almost certainly dipped below zero in September, barring a startling and deeply improbable surge in the core. We look for a 0.4% month-to-month headline drop, driven by an 11% plunge in gasoline prices, pushing the year-over-year rate to -0.3%. This is of no real economic significance, not least because hugely unfavorable base effects mean the year-over-year rate almost certainly will rise sharply over the next few months, reaching about 1¾% as soon as January.
The Fed's action, statement, and forecasts, and Chair Yellen's press conference, made it very clear the Fed is torn between the dovish signals from the recent core inflation data, and the much more hawkish message coming from the rapid decline in the unemployment rate.
Today's MPC meeting and minutes are the first opportunity for Committee members to speak out in over a month, now that election "purdah" rules have lifted.
Japanese real Q2 GDP growth surprised analysts, increasing sharply to a quarterly annualised rate of 4.0%, up from 1.0% in Q1 and much higher than the consensus, 2.5%. But its no coincidence that the jump in Japanese growth follows strong growth in China in Q1.
The stand-out development in yesterday's labour market report was the drop in the he adline, three-month average, unemployment rate to just 4.0% in June--its lowest rate since February 1975--from 4.2% in May.
The MPC surprised nobody yesterday by voting unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% and to maintain the stocks of gilt and corporate bond purchases at £435B and £10B, respectively.
Friday's detailed October CPI report in Germany confirmed that inflation pressures are steadily rising. Inflation rose to 0.8% year-over-year in October, from 0.7% in September, lifted mostly by a continuing increase in energy prices.
Soft September data in Germany and Italy suggest that today's industrial production report in the Eurozone will be poor. Our first chart shows that data from the major EZ economies point to a 0.8% month-to- month fall in September.
All policymaking is about trade-offs; very few government decisions confer only benefits. Someone, or more likely some group, loses. Monetary policy is no exception to the trade-off rule.
The Bank of England won't set markets alight today. We expect another 9-0 vote to leave rates unchanged at 0.25%, and to continue with the £50B of gilt purchases and $10B of corporate bond purchases announced in August. This is not to say, though, that everything is plain sailing for the Monetary Policy Committee.
When the dust settles after today's wave of data, we expect to have learned that core retail sales continued to rise in June, core inflation nudged back up to its cycle high, and manufacturing output rebounded after an auto-led drop in May. None of these reports will be enough to push the Fed into early action, but they will add to the picture of a reasonably solid domestic economy ahead of the U.K. Brexit referendum.
Yesterday's preliminary full-year GDP data in Germany tell a cautionary tale of the dangers in taking national accounts at face value. The headline data suggest real GDP growth rose to 1.7% in 2015, up slightly from 1.6% in 2014, but these data are not adjusted for calendar effects. The working-day adjusted measure buried in the press release instead indicates that growth slowed marginally to 1.5% from 1.6% in 2014.
January's CPI inflation of 1.8%, up from 1.6% in December, was one-tenth lower than anticipated by the consensus, the Bank of England and ourselves. The undershoot, however, was entirely due to a pull-back in clothing inflation which is unlikely to be sustained. Price pressures across the rest of the economy have continued to intensify, suggesting that CPI inflation still is on course greatly to exceed the 2% target later this year.
Brazil's consumer spending data yesterday appeared downbeat. Retail sales fell 2.1% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 4.9%, from -3.8% in November. This is a poor looking headline, but volatility is normal in these data at this time of the year, and the underlying trend is improving.
Central banks in Chile, Peru, and Mexico hogged the market spotlight last week. Chile left its main interest rate at 3.0% on Thursday, for the fourth consecutive meeting.
Chile's central bank left rates unchanged on Tuesday for the fourth consecutive month, as recent data confirmed the sluggish pace of the economic recovery and inflation edges down closer to the target range. In the statement accompanying the decision, the BCCh kept its tightening bias, saying that the normalisation of monetary policy needs to continue at a data-dependent pace, in order to achieve its 3% target.
The median of FOMC members' estimates of longer run nominal r-star--the rate which would maintain full employment and 2% inflation--nudged up by a tenth in September to 3.0%, implying real r-star of 1%.
The MPC's forecast in August, which predicted that inflation would overshoot its 2% target over the next two years only modestly--giving it the green light to ease policy--assumed that inflation in sectors insensitive to swings in import prices would remain low. We doubt, however, that domestically generated inflation will remain benign.
The Japanese GDP report yesterday contained substantial revisions to Q4. We had expected the Q1 contraction, but the revisions recast the health of the recovery, making the domestic demand performance look much less impressive recently, with the economy struggling since the burst of growth in the first half last year.
The jump in CPI inflation to 2.7% in April, from 2.3% in March, was only partly to a temporary boost from the later timing of Easter this year. Indeed, inflation likely will rise further over the coming months as food, energy and core goods prices all continue to pick up in response to last year's depreciation of sterling.
Japan's PPI inflation likely has peaked, with commodities still in the driving seat. Manufactured goods price inflation will soon start to slow, following the downshift in China's numbers.
Last week's comments by Mr. Draghi--see here-- indicate that the ECB is increasingly confident that core inflation will continue to move slowly towards the target of "below, but close to 2%", despite elevated external risks, and marginally tighter monetary policy.
The February activity report in Colombia showed a modest pick-up in manufacturing activity and strength in the retail sales numbers.
In yesterday's Monitor, we argued that if the upside risk in an array of core CPI components crystallised in January, the month-to-month gain would print at 0.3%, for the first time since August. That's exactly what happened, though we couldn't justify it as our base forecast. A combination of rebounding airline fares, apparel prices, new vehicle prices, and education costs conspired to generate a 0.31% gain, lifting the year-over-year rate back to the 2.3% cycle high, first reached in February last year.
If clarity is the first test of written English, the FOMC failed miserably yesterday. "Considerable time" is gone, but the new formulation--"the Committee judges that it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy"--was not clearly defined, though the FOMC did say it is "consistent with its previous statement".
Consumer confidence surveys have risen since the elections to levels consistent with very rapid growth in real spending.
Japan's July adjusted trade surplus rebounded to ¥337.4B from ¥87.3B in June, far above consensus. On our seasonal adjustment, the rebound is slightly smaller but only because we saw less of a drop in June.
Equity prices for U.K. retailers have performed woefully since the E.U. referendum. The FTSE All-Share Index for general retailers has underperformed the overall All-Share Index by nearly 30% since the Brexit vote.
Centrist politicians and markets breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as the results of the Dutch parliamentary elections rolled in. The incumbent conservatives, led by PM Mark Rutte, lost ground but emerged as parliament's biggest party with 33 seats out of the total 150.
Governor Kuroda dropped further hints in speeches earlier this week that interest rates will be going up. He discussed methods of exit, in loose terms.
The sovereign debt crisis in the euro area was a macroeconomic horror story
Colombia's economy defied rising political uncertainty at the start of the year. Retail sales growth jumped to plus 6.2% year-over-year in January, up from -3.8% in December and -1.8% in Q4.
Sterling received a shot in the arm yesterday following the release of the minutes of the MPC's meeting, which revealed that three members voted to raise interest rates to 0.50%, from 0.25% currently. Markets and economists--including ourselves--had expected another 7-1 split, but Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders switched sides and joined Kristin Forbes in seeking higher rates.
January's retail sales figures look set to show that growth in consumers' spending remains stuck in low gear.
Growth in new EZ car sales slipped last month, following a strong start to the year. New registrations rose 4.4% year-over-year in February, slowing from a 8.7% rise in January.
Chinese April retail sales growth slowed sharply in value terms, to 9.4% year-over-year, from 10.1% in March.
Today's labour market figures likely will show that the Brexit vote has inflicted only minimal damage on job prospects so far. The unemployment rate likely held steady at 4.9% in the three months to September, and the risk of a renewed fall in unemployment appears to be bigger than for a rise.
The consensus view that today's retail sales data will show volumes increased by 0.2% month-to-month in October is too sanguine.
Japanese GDP growth in the third quarter corrected the imbalances of the second. Domestic demand took a breather after unsustainable growth in Q2, while net exports rebounded.
October's consumer price figures, to be released tomorrow, look set to show CPI inflation easing to -0.2%, from -0.1%, below the no-change consensus and the lowest rate since March 1960. No doubt this will spark more hyperbolic headlines about the U.K.'s descent into pernicious deflation; ignore them. October's print will almost certainly represent the nadir and we think it will take only a year for CPI inflation to return to the MPC's 2% target.
The average month-to-month increase in the core CPI in the past three months is a solid 0.20, much firmer than the 0.05% average over the previous five months, stretching back to the first of the run of downside surprises, in March.
The acceleration in real consumption over the past year reflects the upturn in real after-tax income growth. This, in turn, is mostly a story of falling gasoline prices, which have depressed the PCE deflator. Gross nominal incomes before tax rose 4.2% year-over-year in the three months to September, exactly matching the pace in the three months to September 2014. But real income growth, after tax, accelerated to 3.3% from 2.5% over the same period, as our first chart shows.
This is the final Monitor before we head out for our spring break, so we have added a page in order to make room to preview the employment report due next Friday, April 4. We expect a solid but unspectacular 175K increase in payrolls, slowing from February's unsustainable 242K, but still robust.
Leading indicators all point to a solid August payroll number. Survey-based measures of the pace of hiring signal a 200K-plus increase, and jobless claims--a proxy for the pace of gross layoffs--are at a record low as a share of the workforce.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. Employment
It is often argued that the average weekly earnings--AWE--figures exaggerate the severity of the squeeze on households' incomes.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the outlook for U.S. inflation and labor market with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Julia Chatterley on "What'd You Miss?"
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the latest U.K. Labour Market Data
Investors anticipate a shift up in the MPC's hawkish rhetoric today. After August's consumer price figures showed CPI inflation rising to 2.9%--0.2 percentage points above the Committee's forecast--the market implied probabilities of a rate hike by the November and February meetings jumped to 35% and 60%, respectively, from 20% and 40%.
Most of the evidence points to a robust December employment report today, though we doubt the headline number will match the heights seen in November, when the initial estimate showed payrolls up 321K. We look for 275K.
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It doesn'tt matter if third quarter GDP growth is revised up a couple of tenths in today's third estimate of the data, in line with the consensus forecast.
We're expecting a 175K increase in December payrolls today. Our forecast has been nudged down from 190K in the wake of the ADP employment report, which was slightly weaker than we expected.
We aren't materially changing our U.S. economic forecasts in the wake of the U.K.'s Brexit vote, though we have revised our financial forecasts. The net tightening of financial conditions in the U.S. since the referendum is just not big enough--indeed, it's nothing like big enough--to justify moving our economic forecasts.
Readers have asked us about the availability of flow-of-funds data in the Eurozone similar to the detailed U.S. reports. The ECB's sector accounts come close and cover a lot of ground, but are also released with a lag. We can't cover all sectors in one Monitor, but the investment data for non-financial firms, excluding construction, suggest that investment growth slowed last year.
The MPC talks up raising bank rate soon...but weak wage growth likely will mean it hesitates
Chinese CPI inflation trends point to diminishing wage growth, as the services sector begins to struggle with the influx of labour displaced by the industrial productivity drive.
Even though Greece managed to avert default yesterday by paying €200M in interest to the IMF, our assumption is that the country remains on the brink of running out of money. Our view is supported by the government's decision to expropriate local authority funds, and reports that the government's domestic liabilities, excluding wages and pensions, are not being met.
Growth, inflation to challenge the Fed in 2018...faster wage growth will push them too
Sterling's fall is hurting more than it's helping...Slow GDP and wage growth will keep the MPC inactive
The economic momentum evident late last year carried into 2015, the Labor Department said Friday, with American employers adding 257,000 jobs in January as wage growth rebounded and more people joined the workforce
The MPC's meeting on Thursday looks set to be a perfunctory affair. Signs that the economy has lost momentum this year, alongside downward surprises from CPI inflation in January and wage growth in December, mean the Committee won't give the idea of hiking rates a moment's thought.
Has the wages dam finally burst? If it hasn't, it will soon
Real wage falls are slowing the economy...Fears of rate hikes this year are overblown
We look for the Fed to increase rates today by 25bp to a range of 0.25%-to-0.50%. The FOMC will likely say that policy remains very accommodative and that rate hikes will be slow. Unfortunately, this will provide only temporary relief to LatAm. According to our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, faster wage gains next year in the U.S. will disrupt the Fed's intention to move gradually. If wages accelerate as quickly as we expect, the Fed will need to raise rates more rapidly than it currently expects, which is also faster than markets anticipate. That, in turn, will put EM markets and currencies under further pressure.
Banxico raised its benchmark interest rate by another 25bp to 7.0% at last Thursday's policy meeting. This hike follows nine previous increases, totalling 375bp since December 2015, in order to put a lid on inflation expectations and actual inflation. Both have been lifted this year by the lagged effect of the MXN's weakness last year, the "gasolinazo", and the minimum wage increase in January.
The core economic narrative in U.S. markets right now seems to run something like this: The pace of growth slowed in Q1, depressing the rate of payroll growth in the spring. As a result, the headline plunge in the unemployment rate is unlikely to persist and, even if it does, the wage pressures aren't a threat to the inflation outlook.
The squeeze on real wages has just ended and GfK's consumer confidence index hit a 11-month high in March.
Good news keeps on coming from Mexico, and the outlook is still favourable. Overall inflation pressures remain subdued and the domestic economy remains reasonably solid, despite a modest slowdown in recent months. Job creation remains robust, and real wages have been growing at a solid, non-inflationary pace.
Markets expect RPI inflation--which still is used to calculate index-linked gilt payments, negotiate wage settlements, and revalue excise duties--to rise to only 2.7% a year from now, from 1.6% in June. By contrast, we expect RPI inflation to leap to 3.5%. As we outlined in yesterday's Monitor which previewed today's numbers, CPI inflation likely will shoot up to 3% from 0.5% over the next year.
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.
Fed Chair Yellen said nothing very new in the core of her Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, repeating her view that rates likely will have to rise this year but policy will remain accommodative, and that the labor market is less tight than the headline unemployment rate suggests. The upturn in wage growth remains "tentative", in her view, making the next two payroll reports before the September FOMC meeting key to whether the Fed moves then.
On the face of it, recent retail spending surveys have been puzzlingly weak in light of the pick-up in employment growth, still-robust real wage gains and renewed momentum in the housing market. We think those surveys are a genuine signal that retail sales growth is slowing, and expect today's official figures to surprise to the downside. But retail sales account for just one-third of household spending, and, in contrast to the early stages of the economic recovery, consumers now are prioritising spending on services rather than goods.
We expect the Fed not to raise rates today. In the eyes of the waverers who will need to change their minds in order to trigger action, the latest data-- especially wages--do not make a compelling case for immediate action, and the obvious fragility of markets strengthens the case for doing nothing today. This is a Fed which in recent years has greatly preferred to err on the side of caution. With no immediate inflation threat, the waverers and the doves will take the view that the cost of delaying the first move until October or December is small. As far as we can tell, they are the majority on the committee.
RPI inflation has declined in importance as a measure of U.K. inflation and was stripped of its status as a National Statistic in 2013. Yet it is still used to negotiate most wage settlements, calculate interest payments on index-linked gilts, and revalue excise duties. We have set out our above-consensus view on CPI inflation several times, including in yesterday's Monitor. But the potential for the gap between RPI and CPI inflation to widen over the coming years also threatens the markets' view that the former will remain subdued indefinitely.
Dr Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, says that while US rates will rise by 0.25% on 14th December, the central bank needs to continue to move rates up or wages will spiral up out of control.
Payroll growth rebounded to 223K in May, after two sub-200K readings, and we're expecting today's June ADP report to signal that labor demand remains strong.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson named Market Watch forecaster of the month for July
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. employment
Chief US economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest Jobs report
Chief US economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest Jobs report
Chief US economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest Jobs report
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