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January 02, 2007
Economy Poised For '07 Rebound,Forecasters Say
Weakness in Housing, Manufacturing Is Likely To Take a Lighter Toll
Other than a few economists, the overwhelming consensus view is for a soft landing and GDP growth of 2.5% to 3.0% in 2007.
The Economic Cycle Research Institute, an independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index slipped to 138.5 in the week ending Dec. 22 from 139.7 in the prior week, due to higher interest rates and more jobless claims.
However, annualized growth in the week ended Dec. 22 rose to 3.8 percent from 3.4 percent in the prior period, a reading not reached since last February.
"Given the steady improvement in the WLI, recession is no longer a serious concern," said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director at ECRI.
Ten-year Treasuries and mortgage rates have not gone through the roof. As a result, housing is going to be OK -- and a thousand doomsday forecasts must be put aside.
... the next few months will show whether my mid-2006 forecast of a US hard landing in 2007 will be proven true or not. Certainly some of my more recent forecasts for financial markets (equities fall, fixed income rally), about Fed easing in 2007, lack of real economy decoupling in the rest of the world are highly conditional on this US hard landing call. I am still of the view that the risks of a hard landing are high.
The economists surveyed expect year-to-year inflation to decline to 1.7% in May from 2.0% in November. As a result, they expect the Fed to shift its focus from fighting inflation to helping the economy grow, lowering short-term interest rates to 4.75% by the end of 2007 from the current 5.25%.
It looks like the Bank of England may not be done with interest rate hikes. Not with the continued house price increases reported by Reuters...And there could be more rate hikes from the European Central Bank as well. Reuters reports:
The case for more euro zone rate hikes got a boost from stronger than expected November money supply data on Friday and from comments on Thursday by ECB Governing Council member Yves Mersch, who said rates remain low in historical terms...
At Eurozone Watch, Daniela Schwarzer and Sebastian Dullien concur:
Is the ECB going to raise interest rates towards 4 percent?
Yes. The strong growth outlook will push the ECB to raise its interest rates to 3.75 percent in the first half of the year and by a further 25 basis points later on. As inflationary pressure is still limited, the ECB will refrain from tightening much faster. Risks to this call are, however, a stronger than expected US downturn or a strong appreciation of the euro. In these cases, the ECB might delay a further hike beyond 3.75 percent.
They also predict:
The euro will most likely further gain in value. There is a significant risk that it rises above 1.40 $ in 2007. Two factors are supporting the young currency: With further interest rate hikes by the ECB, investment in the Eurozone will become more attractive. Moreover, the possibility of a rate cut by the US Federal reserve still remains. Finally, there is a risk that central banks in Asia and from OPEC countries continue to diversify their portfolios and buy euros.
For their part, the consensus among WSJ group is that the dollar will stabilize near 1.3 per euro, about where it is today (though Claus Vistesen thinks there has already been enough appreciation and monetary policy to make a "dent" in eurozone growth).
Now we'll all wait and see how it is we will be wrong.
UPDATE: Cotango is going to "hold to my view that 2007 is going to be a rough year for the US economy: 1.5 % GDP growth" and beleives that "If it does get rough, the Fed will have to open the liquidity valves full blast". David K. Smith reports on forecasts for the UK (where projected growth is close, but still higher, than expectations for the US).
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