Tag: FOMC

Monday Economic Report – June 22, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Last week, one media outlet reported that manufacturing has been in a “technical recession” for the past six months. I am more hesitant to use the R-word to describe the sector’s performance year-to-date, and in my view, this description somewhat overstates the significance of broader market trends, particularly for expectations moving forward. At the same time, manufacturing production has declined since late last year, as illustrated in the graphic below. A number of significant economic headwinds have reduced output in four of the past six months, reducing the year-over-year pace of growth in the sector from 4.5 percent in November to 1.8 percent in May. Capacity utilization has also declined for five consecutive months, down from 78.1 percent in December to 77.0 percent in May. (continue reading…)

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The Federal Reserve Downgraded its Forecast for 2015, Maintained its Existing Policies for Now

The Federal Reserve downgraded its forecast for growth for 2015 in its latest economic projections. Fed participants now expect real GDP to grow between 1.8 and 2.0 percent this year, down from an estimate of 2.3 to 2.7 percent growth seen in its March forecast. Indeed, this represented the second downward revision in growth estimates for the year, decelerating from the 2.6 to 3.0 percent outlook observed in December. As such, the reduced outlook for the economy this year from the Federal Reserve mirrors similar drops in growth estimates from other economists – including me – in light of softer-than-desired performance over the past six months, both in the U.S. and globally. This is consistent with the latest NAM Manufacturers Outlook Survey, which found that respondents were less upbeat about future activity in light of headwinds from a stronger dollar, weaknesses abroad, lower crude oil prices and a still-cautious consumer.

(continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – May 26, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:

The minutes of the April 28–29 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting highlighted the nuance that many of us see in the economy right now. The Federal Reserve highlighted a number of challenges facing consumers and businesses in the early months of 2015, noting how these headwinds have dampened overall activity year-to-date. On the other hand, the FOMC felt that slowing economic growth was largely due to “transitory factors,” with its outlook mostly unchanged for the rest of this year. The Federal Reserve projects growth of 2.3 to 2.7 percent in 2015, and it expects the unemployment rate to fall to 5.0 to 5.2 percent.   (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – May 4, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

The U.S. economy stagnated in the first quarter, with real GDP growing by just 0.2 percent. This compares to a consensus estimate of 1.1 percent, and it was lower than the 5.0 percent and 2.2 percent growth rates observed in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, respectively. As one might expect from a data point that is just shy of zero, the underlying contributions to growth were mixed. Net exports and government spending were drags on activity in the first quarter, particularly with headwinds from a stronger dollar. Consumer spending on goods and nonresidential fixed investment were also weak, with the latter experiencing sharp declines stemming from the energy market and its supply chain. The bright spots—to the extent that you could call them that—were service-sector spending and a rebound in inventories. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – April 20, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:

Manufacturing production increased 0.1 percent in March. This followed three months of weaker data, including declines in both January and February. There have been some significant headwinds hitting the manufacturing sector over the past few months, including a strong U.S. dollar, weakened economic markets abroad, lower crude oil prices, the West Coast ports slowdown and weather. These challenges have slowed activity in the sector since November. The latest Beige Book discussed these headwinds. The year-over-year pace of manufacturing production in March was 2.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in November. Meanwhile, total industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, fell 0.6 percent in March, declining for the third time in the past four months. As such, the data suggest manufacturers have started the new year on a very soft note despite optimism for better demand and output moving forward. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – March 23, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

The U.S. economy has sputtered a bit in the early months of 2015. While it continues to grow modestly, several economic indicators are weaker than we would prefer. For example, manufacturing production decreased by 0.2 percent in February, declining for the third straight month. Many headwinds have combined to bring about this softness in the manufacturing sector, including global economic weakness, a strong U.S. dollar, the West Coast ports slowdown, a cautious consumer and the weather in some parts of the country. (continue reading…)

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The Fed Drops “Patience” from its Monetary Policy Statement

As expected, the Federal Reserve no longer says that it can be “patient” in normalizing monetary policy. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which met on March 17 and 18, does say that “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting.” This would suggest that the soonest that short-term rate might increase would be at the June 16-17 meeting. With that said, the fed funds rate will change only when data warrant such actions. Still, conventional wisdom holds that the FOMC will vote to raise rates at some point in 2015, likely in June, July or September. For the most part, the Fed has been on automatic pilot with its intentions for a mid-year hike, and this action clears the way for that to happen. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – March 16, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Global news dominated the headlines once again last week. The euro sank lower as the European Central Bank began its quantitative easing program, where it plans to purchase 1 trillion euros in government bonds over the next 18 months in an effort to stimulate faster economic growth. As a result, the euro has depreciated by nearly 25 percent over the past 10 months, down from $1.3924 per one euro on May 6 to a close of $1.0483 on Friday. There is also some expectation that it will move to parity soon, a level last seen in November 2002. (For more information on international developments, see the latest Global Manufacturing Economic Update.) (continue reading…)

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Producer Prices for Final Demand Goods Have Fallen for 8 Straight Months

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services surprisingly fell 0.5 percent in February. The consensus expectation had been for an increase of 0.3 percent, particularly as petroleum prices have stopped falling. Indeed, final demand energy goods prices were unchanged as a whole in February, the first non-negative number since June. Yet, lower food prices helped to reduce producer prices for final demand goods for the eighth straight month, down 0.4 percent. In particular, there were lower prices reported for dairy products, fruits and vegetables, grains, meats and shellfish – precisely the areas that have seen significant increases over much of the past year. Food prices rose 4.3 percent in 2014, but declines in the first two months of 2015 have reduced these costs by 2.6 percent. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – February 2, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

The U.S. economy grew 2.4 percent in 2014, just barely edging out the 2.2 percent gain in 2013. Yet, that somewhat understates the strength of the economy since the winter-related weaknesses seen at this point last year. Indeed, real GDP increased by an annualized 4.1 percent during the last three quarters of 2014, and in the fourth quarter, Americans spent at a healthy 4.3 percent annual pace, the fastest rate since the first quarter of 2006. Still, the 2.6 percent growth rate in real GDP in the fourth quarter also had some red flags. Weaker growth abroad, a strengthening U.S. dollar and worries about dramatically lower energy prices have impacted capital spending and international demand negatively. Therefore, while manufacturers remain mostly upbeat about orders and production in 2015, these developments serve as a reminder of the challenges in the global marketplace right now. (continue reading…)

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