Author Archives: Diane Swonk

Slowdown in Employment is Misleading

Payroll employment rose 173,000, which is much lower than market expectations but well in line with our forecast. The August report is notoriously underreported and then later revised up. Private sector payroll employment increased by a much more modest 140,000. The slowdown was broad-based

Employment Report: August is a Quirky Month

Payroll employment is expected to rise a slightly tepid 175,000 in August after averaging more than 240,000 for the previous twelve months. Private employment is expected to increase by 170,000. We expect the unemployment rate to hold at 5.3%. The slowdown in employment growth is mostly cosmetic and reflective of the statistical agencies’ inability to [...]

Construction Spending Higher In June and July

Construction spending surged 0.7% in July and was revised up for the month of June; it is now at the highest level since mid-2008, which is good but still suppressed relative to the bubble. Gains in the private sector offset a drop in the public sector. The rise in single-family home construction outpaced gains

Consumers Go Car Shopping

Personal disposable incomes rose 0.4% after adjusting for inflation in the month of July, faster than consumer spending, which edged up 0.3% during the month. The bulk of the rebound in consumer spending, which came on the heels of a slight upward revision to June, occurred in vehicle purchases. Consumers have been reluctant to spread [...]

Growth in 2Q Revised Much Higher

The economy expanded at a revised 3.7% pace in the second quarter, almost 1.5% stronger than initial estimates for the period. The changes were driven by a strong upward revision to business investment. Commercial construction activity was particularly strong, while the contraction in equipment spending is now significantly less than initially reported.

Durable Goods Surprise to the Upside

Durable goods orders surged a more-than-expected 2% in July and were revised up to show a whopping 4.1% gain in June. More importantly, July’s gains occurred outside of the highly volatile aircraft sector; we saw increases in everything from machinery to vehicles and communications equipment. The increase in machinery is encouraging as it appears to [...]

Market Gremlins Disrupt Liftoff

Rapid declines in global equity prices, risks that the downdraft in China will take the U.S. market down again tomorrow and a legitimate concern that inflation will further decelerate are now expected to keep the Federal Reserve on the sidelines in September. A move in December is still possible, but a close call. Uber dove [...]

Fed Holds Cards Close to Vest

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes show that the Federal Reserve continued to edge toward liftoff, but members were not there yet last month. The divide between those on the FOMC who would like to raise rates in September and those who would prefer to wait is widening.

Inflation Remains Cool

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose a slightly less-than-expected 0.1% in July, with weakness in energy, vehicle and airfares offsetting continued increases in shelter costs. Prescription drug costs also continue to rise,

Construction Data Improves with Detail

Construction spending rose an almost imperceptible 0.1% in June, with a drop in the private sector offsetting ongoing gains in the public sector. Revisions to previous months were to the upside, however, suggesting that the improving trend in construction that we saw with last month’s release is still intact.