August 2016 - Forecasts & Trends

Forecasts & Trends is much more than just investment blog posts. You need to know the "big picture;" you need to have a "world view," especially in the post-911 world; and you need more information than ever before to be successful in meeting your financial goals. Gary intends to help you do just that.

Forecasts & Trends

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  • US Worker Productivity In Serious Decline -- The Reasons Why

    The Labor Department reported earlier this month that US worker productivity, which measures hourly worker output, declined for the third consecutive quarter at the end of June, the worst showing since the late 1970s. The productivity rate also declined for the 12 months ended June. This news came as a surprise to most forecasters who were sure that the productivity rate would have snapped back strongly in the 2Q.

    There is near-universal agreement among economists that worker productivity is the most important determinant in whether our incomes and living standards rise or fall over the years. If productivity continues to fall, the economy will be hamstrung, incomes will stagnate and our living standards will deteriorate in the years ahead.

    Interestingly, there is not near-universal agreement on what is causing the current extended period of falling productivity, nor what should be done to reverse this critical trend. Today I will devote this space to explaining why productivity is moving in the wrong direction and what should, and should not, be done about it.

    Given the enormous impact productivity has on our economy, our incomes and our living standards, I would hope that more Americans understand this issue better before they head to the polls in what will be the most critical presidential election in many years. Therefore, feel free to forward today’s E-Letter to as many people as you see fit.

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  • Clinton & Trump Unveil Very Different Economic Plans

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New York billionaire Donald Trump both announced their major plans for the economy last week, if elected president in November. As you might expect, the two plans are very different. I will summarize both as we go along today, and you can draw your own conclusions.

    Before we get to that discussion, I want to bring to your attention the fact that the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a significant improvement in the US economy for the current 3Q. As you may recall, the Atlanta Fed produces a real-time estimate of the US economy which is called “GDPNow.” As of last Friday, the GDPNow is forecasting a jump to 3.5% in GDP in the 3Q.

    Keep in mind that US GDP was only 0.8% in the 1Q and 1.2% in the 2Q. A strong jump to 3.5% in the 3Q would be almost triple the anemic 1.2% in the 2Q. The obvious question is, what is the Fed seeing so far in this July to September quarter that is making it so confident? That’s what we’ll talk about just below.

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  • Another Strong Jobs Report, But Economy Remains Weak

    Last Friday’s unemployment report for July was significantly better than expected for the second month in a row. This has led many analysts to upgrade their forecasts for growth in the second half of this year. Yet as I will argue below, forecasters often put far too much weight on one or two monthly economic reports that can be revised significantly in subsequent months.

    While new jobs were substantially above the pre-report consensus in June and July, let us not forget that job creation in May was almost non-existent, the lowest in several years. The fact is, the US economy continues to limp along at less than 2% growth.

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  • GDP Stunner: 2Q Growth Was Less Than Half of Forecast

    The Commerce Department reported last Friday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the US, rose only 1.2% (annual rate) in the second quarter. That was less than half the pre-report consensus of 2.6%. This was one of the largest misses by forecasters in quite some time. I'll break down the report as we go along today. I will also discuss what the Fed's reaction to the disappointing GDP report is likely to be.

    At the end of today's letter, I will give you a link to a WALL STREET JOURNAL article on Sunday which claims that while Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton compromised national security by urging US technology companies to fund Russian research for military purposes. Assuming it’s true as the Journal claims, it will easily be the most serious scandal ever for Ms. Clinton. And it couldn't come at a better time!

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