The Atlanta Fed's macroblog provides commentary and analysis on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, inflation, labor economics, and financial issues.
- BLS Handbook of Methods
- Bureau of Economic Analysis
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Congressional Budget Office
- Economic Data - FRED® II, St. Louis Fed
- Office of Management and Budget
- Statistics: Releases and Historical Data, Board of Governors
- U.S. Census Bureau Economic Programs
- White House Economic Statistics Briefing Room
May 13, 2006
So Was The Economic News Good Or Bad This Week?
It's kind of hard to tell, if you ask me. The economic news of the last couple of days did include the hint of the consumer retrenchment that everyone is waiting for: Weaker than expected retail sales and sinking consumer sentiment. Kash, reporting from Angry Bear, took it hard, indicating that he is hearing "echoes from the late 1970s." Not everyone was so moved. From MarketWatch:
"It's much ado about nothing," said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, of all the spending-slowdown talk.
"Consumers have been telling us they have a little less in discretionary spending, but it is extremely difficult to finad any retail category where there's been any major impact becasue of it,"he added.
There have been blips along the way, but that's to be expected. Overall, sales at the nation's largest chain stores were suprisingly strong in April, and Niemira reported that they're on track for a similarly good performance in May.
Some positives might also be found in the March improvement of the trade deficit which, as Calculated Risk points out, occurred despite the fact that the economy still seems to be cruising right along. Before you get too excited, though, Brad Setser advises you to not get used to it:
But the main reason for the better-than-expected deficit: oil.
That's right. Oil. Oil imports fell. Seasonally adjusted petroleum imports fell by about $2 billion in March...
The bad news: the March import price of $52.26 a barrel (a bit below February) is not going to last. And I hope that inventories were high despite the fall off in imports … otherwise, April isn’t going to be pretty.
Would it be churlish of me to point out that just last month we also thought the March numbers were going to turn south? Beats me. I don't know what churlish means. Jim Hamilton does note that, based on recent experience,
...the quantity should again decline next month (although why this pattern should recur is a bit speculative, since the series is seasonally adjusted)...
... since oil import prices rose 11.5% in April, the nominal value of total oil and oil related imports should probably rise next month. Hence, we should not expect relief on that front in the near future.
On the other hand, The Nattering Naybob Chronicles points out that the March oil price effects weren't exactly trivial:
Worse news: April Import prices +2.1% vs prior -0.2%. Export prices +0.6% vs prior +0.2%
Inside the number: The largest increase in imported petroleum since Mar 05 +11.5% stoked the import price increase. Ex petroleum Import Prices FLAT.
That last sentence injects a bit of fresh air into what have generally been some pretty stinky inflation numbers (ably summarized by the Dallas Fed, as appearing at Economist's View). I'll take some solace there, but Barry Ritholtz says hold on -- it's going to get worse. Not sure I want to argue that point, but for now I'll call the play inconclusive.
UPDATE: Jim Hamilton advises: Be concerned, don't panic.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to blogs that reference So Was The Economic News Good Or Bad This Week?:
Tracked on May 14, 2006 2:30:31 PM
» A slowdown, not from Contango
The fundamentals behind commodities are still strong. The slump in oil imports was due to a drawdown in inventories to head off the usual price hike due to the summer increase in gasoline demand. [Read More]
Tracked on May 16, 2006 7:55:54 PM
- Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?
- Are People in Middle-Wage Jobs Getting Bigger Raises?
- GDPNow and Then
- What's behind the Recent Uptick in Labor Force Participation?
- Is the Number of Stay-at-Home Dads Going Up or Down?
- Labor Force Participation: Aging Is Only Half of the Story
- Putting the MetLife Decision into an Economic Context
- The Rise of Shadow Banking in China
- Which Wage Growth Measure Best Indicates Slack in the Labor Market?
- Collateral Requirements and Nonbank Online Lenders: Evidence from the 2015 Small Business Credit Survey
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- Business Cycles
- Business Inflation Expectations
- Capital and Investment
- Capital Markets
- Data Releases
- Economic conditions
- Economic Growth and Development
- Exchange Rates and the Dollar
- Fed Funds Futures
- Federal Debt and Deficits
- Federal Reserve and Monetary Policy
- Financial System
- Fiscal Policy
- Health Care
- Inflation Expectations
- Interest Rates
- Labor Markets
- Latin America/South America
- Monetary Policy
- Money Markets
- Real Estate
- Saving, Capital, and Investment
- Small Business
- Social Security
- This, That, and the Other
- Trade Deficit
- Wage Growth