A whiff of stagflation

Supply shortages will ease only gradually over the next couple of years, putting sustained upward pressure on core inflation and constraining real activity. We expect core inflation to remain above 3% for the remainder of this year, with only a modest drop back next year. We anticipate that real GDP growth will be a below-consensus 6.0% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2022. (Pages 3 & 4.)
Paul Ashworth Chief North America Economist
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US Economics Weekly

Debt ceiling could still delay QE taper

This week the focus was on the Fed, which appears intent on announcing a QE taper at the next FOMC meeting in early November. Next week the focus will shift to fiscal policy, with the Democrat’s plans to boost infrastructure and social welfare spending balanced on a knife edge. A debt ceiling crisis in late-October could even delay the Fed’s taper plans.

24 September 2021

US Economics Update

Taper to begin in November

Fed officials gave a heavy hint today that the QE taper will be formally announced in November and, presumably in response to concerns that the surge in inflation won't be as transitory as they originally hoped, there were notable increases in the median interest rate projections.

22 September 2021

US Chart Book

Data provide mixed signals on Delta impact

The latest data provide mixed signals on the impact that the Delta variant is having on the economy. The high frequency indicators for high contact services suggest that activity levelled out in August and weakened a little in early September. Last month’s retail sales report also revealed that spending on food services was broadly flat, but control group sales nevertheless rebounded strongly, as households refocused their spending online and in favour of goods consumption. Elsewhere, leisure and hospitality employment was unchanged in August which, because that sector had been such an important contributor to the strength of the gains in earlier months, helps to explain why payroll employment increased by little more than 200,000 last month. Finally, even though activity only stagnated, the prices for some high contact service activity like hotels and air fares fell quite sharply. The good news is that, with Delta variant infections having now peaked, we should see some rebound in affected activity and employment soon, although the downside is that could contribute to a renewed pick-up in inflation linked to reopening.

21 September 2021

More from Paul Ashworth

US Economics Weekly

Economic growth outlook not quite as rosy now

The drop back in Treasury yields has accelerated over the past few weeks, as persistent supply shortages and the spread of new coronavirus variants have raised doubts about the pace of real economic growth in the second half of this year and beyond. We share those concerns and, in our upcoming US Economic Outlook that will be released early next week, we intend to revise down our forecast for GDP growth this year to a below-consensus 6.0%. Nevertheless, we still expect long-term Treasury yields to rebound a little in the second half of this year. (See here.)

9 July 2021

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Fed officials split; Biden backs infrastructure deal

Fed Chair Jerome Powell stuck to the script in his congressional appearance earlier this week, arguing it was “very, very, unlikely” that the US would experience a return to the high inflation of the 1970s. Elsewhere, President Joe Biden gave his support to a bipartisan infrastructure deal worth $1trn then promptly threatened to veto it too.

25 June 2021

US Chart Book

‘Transitory’ inflation claims look less convincing

The further jump in CPI inflation in May was again driven by a handful of categories most affected by the lifting of pandemic restrictions. But there were also clear signs that inflationary pressures are becoming more widespread, with rent of shelter inflation in the early stages of a cyclical rebound and the jump in food away from home prices a sign that severe labour shortages, and the resulting upward pressure on wages, are starting to feed through. Those trends are much less likely to be transitory, particularly when inflation expectations have continued to trend higher. With the economy still a long way from the Fed’s full employment goal we doubt that officials will be in any rush to bring forward plans for tightening policy. But we suspect the Fed will eventually be forced to admit that higher core inflation will prove more persistent they initially believed.

16 June 2021
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