October 31, 2008
More on Defense Spending
In my last post on the 08Q3 GDP release, I noted the remarkable contribution of defense spending. Here is a little more detail on the growth rates of defense spending on goods and services on a NIPA basis.
October 30, 2008
Some Additional Observations on the 2008Q3 Advance GDP Release
If you went no further than noticing that the q/q annualized growth rate of -0.3% was faster than the -0.5 in the Bloomberg consensus, you might have taken this as good news. I'm not going to say it wasn't good news (relatively speaking), although negative growth makes the case for recession pretty good according to Jeff Frankel (who is on the NBER BCDC); see also RealTime Economics. However, there are some pretty interesting things that merit additional discussion.
Real GDP fell slightly in 2008:Q3
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported today that U.S. real GDP fell at a 0.3% annual rate in the third quarter of 2008. That's the second quarter of negative real GDP growth out of the last four, and puts the cumulative annual growth since 2007:Q3 at an anemic 0.8%.
October 29, 2008
There are plenty of things to worry about in the current economic situation. But deflation isn't one of them.
October 27, 2008
Pocketful of Multipliers (II): Options for Stimulus Packages
As the debate over the nature and size of a stimulus package wends its way through the Congress , , , I thought it would be useful to bring numbers into the debate, especially as we are considering fiscal stimulus in a time when the Bush Administration has constrained, by dint of previous profligacy, our options. In particular, I want to return to the issue of multipliers, discussed in nearly a year ago. Here, I want to provide a little more specificity, regarding the impact depending upon the type of outlays.
Further rate cuts needed
The Fed will probably vote for another 50-basis-point cut in the fed funds rate this week, bringing its target down to 1%. Here's why I think that would be a good idea.
October 25, 2008
The Federal Reserve's balance sheet
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve issued its weekly H.4.1 report, which provides details of the Fed's balance sheet. Once upon a time, this was one of the least interesting of the government's many releases of data. These days, it's become one of the most exciting.
Yikes! Euro Area Edition
From the FT today:
Survey underlines grim outlook for eurozone
By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt, Published: October 24 2008 11:23 | Last updated: October 24 2008 18:37
The eurozone economy contracted sharply in October as the global bank crisis slammed the brakes on business activity and blackened the outlook for the 15-country region, a closely watched survey indicated on Friday.
October 23, 2008
Middle Kingdom Malaise? The Latest Chinese GDP Figures
Monday's announcement that Chinese growth was decelerating was not surprising; that it decelerated to below the consensus of 9.7% growth to 9% (y/y) in 2008Q3 was a surprise. This was reflected in the headlines: "China growth rate slows sharply" (FT), "China less likely to buffer world crisis as its economy slows" (LA Times), "China's economy feels chill from global crisis" (AP). For detailed numbers, see Haver.
Brief questions and answers on the fiscal stimulus
No time to post much today, so I'll just pass along an interesting question and brief answer from the Econbrowser mail room.
October 21, 2008
CRA and Fannie and Freddie as betes noire
There is so much chaff floating around about the roles of Fannie and Freddie and of the Community Reinvestment Act in the current crisis, despite the best efforts of economists like Jim Hamilton  , Mark Thoma and Janet Yellen, that it seems worthwhile to once again go through some of the arguments that have been forwarded.
Federal Reserve Board data show that:
- More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.
- Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.
- Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.
From the FT: The European Economic Outlook
From Europe's Stormy Outlook:
Stormy conditions prevail across Europe's economies, blackening the outlook after the arrival of a full-blown banking sector crisis this month sent confidence plummeting and threatened widespread-economic damage.
Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank president, warned late on Sunday on French television of a "strong slowdown".
The recent turmoil has hardened expectations that 2009 will see little, if any, growth across much of the Continent.
October 20, 2008
Bailouts for commodity speculators
If automakers are lining up at the trough, why not Big Agra?
October 19, 2008
More unhappy numbers
Updates on some of the series we regularly follow, and they're not good.
October 18, 2008
Rapid Downward Revisions in Expected Growth
There have been plenty of accounts that have noted the growing anxiety over economic growth over the short to medium term. However, this forecast from Deutsche Bank, released last night, is quite sobering, especially when compared to forecasts released just two weeks ago.
October 16, 2008
Balancing California's Energy Needs with its Environmental Goals
High Frequency GDP Estimates: The Latest Read
...probably confirms one's priors.
October 15, 2008
Credit Spreads and How Lax Is Monetary Policy?
All eyes have been on the housing market as the trigger for the financial crisis, but we're all aware that there are other potential "triggers" for additional distress: auto loans and credit cards. In addition, spreads are not everything -- levels of real interest rates matter as well.
Some encouraging developments
Plenty of gloom out there if you're hungry for more. But I wanted to pass along a couple of developments this week that give me some hope.
October 14, 2008
The global recession
IMF research economist Prakash Loungani reports some statistics on the extent to which housing price declines are being seen worldwide.
October 13, 2008
The Nobel Prize in Economics to Paul Krugman
From the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel's description of Krugman's scientific contributions:
Trade and Geography -- Economies of Scale, Differentiated Products and Transport Costs
By the late 1980s, researchers had begun to integrate economies of scale into general equilibrium models of location and trade, thereby giving precision to the verbal analyses of earlier researchers and adding important new insights. In the resulting work, now commonly known as the new economic geography, economic geographers made use of the new tools, along with economists who took a renewed interest in the field. Several researchers took part in these developments, but the most influential contributions were made by Paul Krugman.
October 12, 2008
The Budget Deficit...and Macro Policies Going Forward
Let's assume the Treasury, the Fed and the rest of the community of international financial policymakers are able to stabilize the financial system. What are the fiscal options available, given the borrowing and spending policies of the Bush Administration?
From Chowdhury and Huie, "Skyrocketing Issuance," US Economics/Strategy Weekly (Deutsche Bank, 10 Oct.) (not online):
Treasury issuance is likely to increase to extraordinary levels over the past year. There are 3 components to the issuance picture. The first is the traditional federal budget, which in fiscal year 2009 is likely to increase substantially from the 2008 deficit of around $440 bn. The second are the various Treasury rescue initiatives that involve buying assets or equities; only the expected net cost will be formally recorded on the budget, but the entire gross spending amount will be added to the issuance requirement. Finally, the Federal Reserve's liquidity facilities will also add to issuance, as the Fed no longer has capacity to sell or lend the Treasuries in its portfolio; instead, going forward it will rely on the Supplementary Financing Program, where the Treasury issues bills and deposits the proceeds at the Fed, to finance its lending facilities. In total, we expect net issuance to rise to $3.3 tn over the fiscal year.
Last month I called attention to an analysis by BLS researchers John Greenlees and Robert McClelland of some of the claims by John Williams of Shadowstats about the consequences for reported inflation of assorted technical decisions made by the BLS. Williams asked me to update with a link to his response to the BLS study. I am happy to do so, along with offering some further observations of my own.
October 10, 2008
Ex-oil Deficit Shrinks, but Exports Slow
The McCain and Obama Economic Advisers Debate
...at the UW-Madison. Ike Brannon spoke on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign and Austan Goolsbee on behalf of the Obama-Biden campaign. Here's the link to Proposals for Change (Adobe Flash required).
October 09, 2008
Prospects for Output: The WSJ Survey
The WSJ just released its newest survey of economists' views on the course of the economy. From the article:
On average, the 52 economists surveyed now expect gross domestic product to contract in the third and fourth quarters of this year, as well as the first quarter of 2009.
This is the first time that survey forecasts for those periods have turned negative. If those predictions bear out, it would mark the first time U.S. GDP -- the total value of goods and services produced -- has contracted for three consecutive quarters in more than a half century. Economists put the odds of recession in the next 12 months at 89%, up from 60% in last month's survey.
October 08, 2008
Back to the Great Depression Debates
Or...Salt Water/Fresh Water Redux!
Figure 1: Log GDP (1996$), 1900-1967 (blue line), and linear trend (red line). Source: S.B. Carter, S.S. Gartner, M.R. Haines, A.L. Olmstead, R. Sutch, G. Wright, Historical Statistics of the United States, Millenial Edition (CUP, 2006).
The IMF's Outlook
The world economy is now entering a major downturn in the face of the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s. Against an exceptionally uncertain background, global growth projections for 2009 have been marked down to 3 percent, the slowest pace since 2002, and the outlook is subject to considerable downside risks. The major advanced economies are already in or close to recession, and, although a recovery is projected to take hold progressively in 2009, the pickup is likely to be unusually gradual, held back by continued financial market deleveraging. In this context, elevated rates of headline inflation should recede quickly, provided oil prices stay at or below current levels. The emerging and developing economies are also slowing, in many cases to rates well below trend, although some still face significant inflation pressure even with more stable commodity prices. The immediate policy challenge is to stabilize global financial markets, while nursing economies through a global downturn and keeping inflation under control. Over a longer horizon, policymakers will be looking to rebuild firm underpinnings for financial intermediation and will be considering how to reduce procyclical tendencies in the global economy and strengthen supplydemand responses in commodity markets.
October 07, 2008
Balance sheet of the Federal Reserve
I was astonished when I heard that the Fed is contemplating increasing the Term Auction Facility to $900 billion. I wanted to take another look at the ever-changing balance sheet of the Fed to see how logistically Bernanke might be able to perform such a feat.
October 06, 2008
How Bad Will the Downturn Be? Stylized Facts
The IMF released several chapters of the World Economic Outlook; one chapter entitled Financial Stress and Economic Downturns provides some insights into the ramifications of the current financial turmoil.
Roundtable discussion on the financial crisis
I participated on Friday with several other UCSD faculty members (including Nobel laureate Harry Markowitz) in a discussion about the current economic crisis. If you have RealPlayer, you can view the discussion here, though I recommend fast-forwarding to skip the first 8 introductory minutes to get to the actual discussion. If you just want my slides, I've posted them here.
October 05, 2008
Are We Still Sure We're Not in a Recession? More on the Employment Situation
I hate to pile on, perhaps in a repetitive fashion given Jim's post, but a mere three weeks ago, Donald Luskin was asserting "Things today just aren't that bad." And, pulling a comment out from mid-September, we have this definitive statement: "But in the final analysis let's just stick to facts. We are not in a recession."
The downturn worsens
UCLA Professor Ed Leamer recently proposed four criteria for determining whether the economy is in recession, and concluded at the time of his study (two months ago) that the U.S. had not yet crossed that threshold. But this week's data might cause him to change his mind.
October 03, 2008
Updating euro-area GDP forecasts
Here I relate some interesting new research on how to update economic forecasts with incoming daily data and the latest assessment of where things stand in Europe.
October 02, 2008
"Do I Feel Lucky?"
Reader Bruce Hall inquires why Econbrowser has not weighed in on the rescue debate. First, I'll observe there has been plenty of commentary on the web. But if compelled, then speaking only for myself, I think the members of Congress who voted against the plan the first time should, this time around, ask themselves this single question: "Do I Feel Lucky?" Those who are familiar with this quote will understand my meaning.
Auto sales deteriorate further
U.S. auto sales have been dismal for most of this year. And they just took a turn for the worse.
October 01, 2008
Chinese Trade: An Update
I was surprised by this item from the BBC:
Chinese trade surplus at new high
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
China's trade surplus hit a monthly record of $28.7bn (£16.28bn) in August as the gap with the US and Europe widened, despite weaker world demand.