The Atlanta Fed's macroblog provides commentary and analysis on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, inflation, labor economics, and financial issues.

Authors for macroblog are Dave Altig, John Robertson, and other Atlanta Fed economists and researchers.

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March 31, 2005

News O' The Day

There was a lot of it, and Bloomberg has the round-up.

Personal spending rose 0.5 percent in February while incomes rose a less-than-expected 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The Labor Department said today the number of Americans seeking first-time jobless benefits jumped in the last weekly tally before tomorrow's monthly jobs report.

That labor market news was not necessarily what you want, but in truth its a pretty volatile statistic week-to-week, so I tend to downplay it. But the news included this observation...

Wages and salaries increased 0.2 percent, the smallest gain since November.

... and the Census Bureau report on February manufacturing shipments, inventories, and orders was a bit of a negative surprise too:

Orders at U.S. factories rose less than forecast in February, restrained in part by a drop in demand for automobiles and appliances, according to another Commerce Department report today. The 0.2 percent increase to $380.4 billion trailed the predicted 0.5 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Orders excluding transportation fell 0.1 percent.

If you are having a glass-half-full day, there was this on the price front:

Prices of goods and services bought by consumers rose 0.3 percent last month after rising 0.2 percent in January. They rose 2.3 percent from February of last year compared with a 2.2 percent year-over-year rise in January.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and other policy makers track the report's inflation figures excluding volatile energy prices. On that basis, the core measure was up 1.6 percent from February of last year, the same as in January

Don't get too comfy, though.  Kash thinks he has a downside of the personal income report for you.

The US's abysmally low personal savings rate has to start rising at some point. There's no getting around that fact. But we clearly have not yet reached that point. Today's release of the February personal income and spending data from the BEA shows no inclination for US households to start saving more. 

Here's what he was talking about (from the BEA report)...

Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 0.6 percent in February, compared with 0.8 percent in January.

And if that glass isn't drained yet, here's the midday report on oil prices (again from Bloomberg):

Crude oil rose and gasoline and heating-oil surged to records on signs that U.S. refineries lack capacity to make enough fuel and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts predicted that oil could touch $105 a barrel.

Record prices have failed to curtail surging fuel consumption, the Goldman Sachs analysts said in a research note. The firm's upper limit was $80 previously. U.S. supplies of gasoline and distillate fuels, such as diesel and heating oil, fell last week, according to an Energy Department report yesterday.

But I hear its a lovely warm day in Cleveland, so let's not end on that note.

"It's equally likely that oil will touch $105 or $15 a barrel,'' said Jason Schenker, an analyst with Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte. "It's not going to $105 without a major cataclysmic terrorist attack on significant oil infrastructure. It's not a rational expectation.''

There. That's better.

March 31, 2005 in Data Releases , Energy | Permalink


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» Catching my eye: morning A through Z from The Glittering Eye
Here's what's caught my eye this morning: Brad DeLong has a round-up of opinion on the hard/soft landing issue. My uninformed opinion is that it depends on who has the most to lose (and I believe that's the Chinese leadership).... [Read More]

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» Why We Need a Consumption Tax from tdaxp
"News of the Day," Macroblog, 31 March 2005, http://macroblog.typepad.com/macroblog/2005/03/news_o_the_day.html (from The Glittering Eye). Because this personal fiscal insanity has to stop Personal spending rose 0.5 percent in February while inco... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 31, 2005 5:25:18 PM


And today's employment data suggests that we're not going anywhere.

That light at the end of the tunnel...may be the hard crash.

Posted by: Movie Guy | April 01, 2005 at 01:25 PM

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