March 8, 2019— The February jobs report was just plain awful. With a Bloomberg median expectation of 180,000 jobs added, and our own higher expectation of 200,000, the shockingly low figure of just 20,000 had many of us thinking we were looking at a typo. Along with some other weak data on retail sales and business spending, the weak jobs figure will certainly drive discussions of whether we are coming up on the end of the expansion.
March 1, 2019— At long last, we have an estimate of economic growth for the fourth quarter of 2018. The report, which was delayed a month due to the government shutdown, surprised a bit to the upside, showing that Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, grew at an annualized rate of 2.6% in Q42018. There had been a few indications that growth might come in weaker, so it was a nice upside surprise.
January 31, 2019– Chairman Powell and the Federal Reserve pushed a message of “patience” after its meeting yesterday, meaning the central bank does not expect to raise interest rates for several months. This is entirely justified by the U.S. economic data, the slowdown abroad, and the numerous risks that lurk. The Fed also gave some more transparency about its willingness to slow down the ongoing normalization of its balance sheet.