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June 14, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update

Summary:
The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Next to nothing has changed with respect to the forecast—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways. About the only news is that over the past month we have seen an 0.8%-point decrease in our estimate in what production will be over April-June, largely driven by reductions in durable goods orders, capacity utilization, net exports, and this morning employment. This might be an impact of Trump's attempt to fight a trade war with China, plus Trump's attempts to add a trade war with Mexico to the mix. Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Jun 14, 2019: Nowcast: "1.4% for 2019:Q2 and 1.7% for 2019:Q3. News from this week's data releases

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The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Next to nothing has changed with respect to the forecast—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways. About the only news is that over the past month we have seen an 0.8%-point decrease in our estimate in what production will be over April-June, largely driven by reductions in durable goods orders, capacity utilization, net exports, and this morning employment. This might be an impact of Trump's attempt to fight a trade war with China, plus Trump's attempts to add a trade war with Mexico to the mix.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Jun 14, 2019: Nowcast: "1.4% for 2019:Q2 and 1.7% for 2019:Q3. News from this week's data releases increased the nowcast for both 2019:Q2 and 2019:Q3 by 0.4 percentage point. Positive surprises from retail sales, capacity utilization, and industrial production...

Key Points:

Specifically, it is still the case that:

  • The Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut has been a complete failure at boosting the American economy through increased investment in America.
    • But it has been a success in making the rich richer and thus America more unequal.
    • And it delivered a short-term demand-side Kerynesian fiscal stimulus to growth that has now ebbed.
  • U.S. potential economic growth continues to be around 2%/year.
  • There are still no signs the U.S. has entered that phase of the recovery in which inflation is accelerating.
  • There are still no signs of interest rate normalization: secular stagnation continues to reign.
  • There are still no signs the the U.S. is at "overfull employment" in any meaningful sense.

  • A change from 1 week ago: Slightly good news about retail sales, capacity utilization, and industrial production...

  • A change from 1 month ago: An 0.8%-point decrease in our estimate of what production will be over April-June. This might well be an impact of Trump's attempt to fight a trade war with China, plus Trump's attempts to add a trade war with Mexico to the mix.

  • A change from 3 months ago: The U.S. grew at 3.2%/year in the first quarter of 2019—1.6%-points higher than had been nowcast—but the growth number you want to put in your head in assessing the strength of the economy is the 1.6%/year number that had been nowcast. The falling-apart of Trump's trade negotiating strategy with China will harm Americans and may disrupt value chains, and the might be becoming visible in the data flow.

  • A change from 6 months ago: Stunning dysfunctionality in the British Conservative Party has put a destructive, hard, no-deal Brexit on the scenario list...


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Bradford DeLong
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

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