GDP and FOMC: Hope Amidst Bad Numbers?
First-quarter U.S. GDP numbers were just plain bad at +0.2%. While March wasn’t terrible, January and February were.
A mix of awful weather, appreciating U.S. currency vs. major foreign currencies, a manufacturing slowdown, and West Coast port closures dealt the economy a body blow.
The Federal Reserve noted some optimism in its April 29 meeting but shied away from any definitive guidance on when it might raise rates. Obviously, with inflation nonexistent, there’s no real pressure on the Fed to act. If anything, fear that raising rates could further stimulate dollar appreciation has to weigh on their thoughts.
It’s likely they will not act anytime soon (as in the June Federal Open Market Committee meeting) but rather wait and see how job numbers look and how manufacturing production (hampered by weaker export orders) looks as well.
Yes, we are in a recovery, but quarter one was a real soft patch, and underemployment (as opposed to unemployment) is truly persistent.
I still think we need to see three consecutive months of U.S. job growth at or above 300,000 net new jobs per month for the Fed to act, given no real inflationary pressures.
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