Stronger growth not generating major imbalances

After the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates by another 25bp, Fed Chair Jerome Powell claimed in the post-meeting press conference that “the economy is doing very well” – we couldn’t agree more. That view was bolstered by May’s retail sales figures, which suggested that both consumption and GDP growth will rebound strongly in the second quarter, to above 4% annualised. The Fed’s financial account data, released last Friday, illustrate that the economic expansion is not being accompanied by a sharp rise in private sector debt. Rising household wealth is prompting households to save less of their incomes and firms have plenty of resources to fund investment, not least thanks to the 2017 tax reform. The main vulnerability is a renewed surge in Federal debt, but even that wasn’t as bad as it looked, because it was boosted by the suspension of the debt ceiling and partly matched by a rise in assets held in the Treasury account at the Fed.
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US Data Response

Industrial Production (Sep.)

The 1.3% fall in industrial production in September partly reflects a temporary hit to mining and chemicals output from Hurricane Ida and a drop in cooling demand, as the weather returned to seasonal norms. That said, most of the 0.7% drop in manufacturing output is due to worsening shortages, particularly of semiconductors, which will hold back production for some considerable time.

18 October 2021

US Economic Outlook

Whiff of stagflation gets stronger

The whiff of stagflation is getting stronger as shortages worsen, leading to surging prices and weaker real GDP growth. Shortages of goods and intermediate inputs will eventually ease, although not for at least six to 12 months. But the drop in the labour force appears to be more permanent, which suggests the pandemic could have a long-term scarring effect on potential GDP after all. We now expect GDP growth to be 2.7% in 2022 and 2.0% in 2023 and we expect CPI inflation to be around 3.0% in both years. We assume the Fed will focus on the weakness in the real economy rather than the sustained overshoot in inflation, however, and are forecasting only two interest rate hikes in 2023.

18 October 2021

US Economics Weekly

Labour force exodus shows no sign of reversing

This week brought more news that acute labour shortages and the resulting surge in wages are rapidly feeding through into the most cyclically sensitive components of the consumer price index.

15 October 2021

More from Capital Economics Economist

Commodities Weekly Wrap

Fears of protectionism weigh on prices

The Fed’s decision to hike its target rate by 25bp and the announcement that the US was going to press ahead with a 25% tariff on imports of Chinese goods prompted a rally in the dollar, which in turn weighed on commodity prices. China has already said it will retaliate, notably with a 25% tariff on soybeans, which was a key factor in the 4% slump in their price this week. Softer Chinese activity data for May, released on Thursday, also worried investors, particularly in the industrial metals markets.

15 June 2018

Canada Economics Weekly

Household debt will remain a risk for years to come

The news earlier this week that household debt had edged down to 168.0% of disposable incomes in the first quarter, from 169.7% in the final quarter of last year, was greeted by some as confirmation that the Bank of Canada had somehow engineered a soft landing in the housing market. It hasn’t. Debt usually surges in the fourth quarter ahead of the Holiday season and falls back in the first quarter, as people pay down their credit cards. Moreover, by focusing on debt exclusively, those commentators also conveniently failed to note that overall household net worth declined to a two-year low of 857% of disposable income.

15 June 2018

China Economics Focus

Headwinds mount

A trade spat with the US is one of a number of headwinds facing China’s economy over the coming year. They point to a slowdown not a slump. But the outlook further ahead is no better. Policymakers’ reluctance to allow market forces to determine economic outcomes is eroding the advantages that have kept China an economic outperformer for so long. China’s average growth over the coming decade is likely to be much weaker as a result.

15 June 2018
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