Category Archives: Diane Swonk

Consumers are in the Driver’s Seat

Real GDP rose a smaller-than-expected 2.6% in the fourth quarter largely due to a surge in consumer spending, which was at least partially offset by a larger-than-expected increase in imports. (Imports subtract from overall GDP growth.) The gains in consumer spending reflect recent increases in employment, incomes and the drop in prices at the pump.

A Statement for Everyone

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted unanimously to do nothing and signal nothing at the January meeting. The committee upgraded its assessment of the economy to reflect what was most likely a strong end to 2014. That said, members also acknowledged that wage growth, inflation and the housing market remain cooler than they would [...]

Answers to frequently asked questions about inflation

Inflation cycles are just that, cycles.  The surging stagflation of the late 1980s persisted even after growth slowed; it took back-to-back recessions (which inflicted enormous pain), induced by the Federal Reserve (led by Paul Volcker at that time) to break the back of that vicious cycle. The 1990s gave us a virtuous cycle with globalization and [...]

Industrial Production Better than Headline

Industrial production fell 0.1% in December after surging 1.3% the month prior. Moreover, the fall in production was due to a drop in utilities. We also saw some declines in vehicle production, representing a need to liquidate inventories. Manufacturing, however, still managed to increase

Consumer Price Inflation Falls

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropped 0.4% in December, the largest drop since 2008, in large part due to plummeting oil prices. Energy prices outside of the oil and gasoline sectors, however, posted mostly increases, which look to be transitory and will retreat as we move into January. Prices for food moved higher and, outside [...]

Retail Sales Disappoint

Retail sales fell almost one full percentage point in the month of December and were revised lower for the month of November. Falling prices at the gas pump, which pushed down sales another 6.5% during the month, and more than 14% from a year earlier, were the primary culprit. Losses, however, were broad-based with declines [...]

Generating Jobs Not Wage Gains

Payroll employment rose by 252,000 in December after being revised up to a whopping 353,000 for the month of November. Private sector payrolls grew a smaller, but still decent, 240,000.

Payrolls Look Strong for December

Total payroll employment is expected to increase by 240,000 in December, with 235,000 gains in the private sector. Gains are expected to be broad-based; the exception may be retailers

Falling Oil Prices Reduce Trade Deficit

The trade deficit narrowed more than expected again in November, with imports dropping more than exports. A fall in oil imports, due to the sharp drop in energy prices we have seen in recent months, was the primary reason for weakening imports. Exports were hurt by a drop in aircraft shipments,

Mixed Data on Construction and Manufacturing

Construction spending fell 0.3% in November after surging a revised 1.2% in October. A sharp drop in public outlays, which led October gains, accounted for much of the weakness. Residential construction continued to post gains, but off of a low base. Single-family home construction,