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Friday, August 28, 2015 11:59 AM

Fed Queen Race: Personal Income Rises 0.4% as Expected; Good for Rate Hikes? GDP?

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Personal income for July rose as expected in today's Personal Income and Outlays report. Consumer spending rose nearly as expected, led of course by auto sales. Price pressure was nonexistent.

There's no hurry for a rate hike based on the July personal income and outlays report where inflation readings are very quiet. Core PCE prices rose only 0.1 percent in the month with the year-on-year rate moving backwards, not forwards, to a very quiet plus 1.2 percent. Total prices are also quiet, also at plus 0.1 percent for the monthly rate and at only plus 0.3 percent the yearly rate.

On the consumer, the data are very solid led by a 0.4 percent rise in income that includes a 0.5 percent rise in wages & salaries which is the largest since November last year. Other income details, led by transfer receipts, also gained in the month. Spending rose 0.3 percent led by a 1.1 gain in durables that's tied to vehicle sales. The savings rate is also healthy, up 2 tenths to 4.9 percent.

The growth side of this report is very favorable and marks a good beginning for the third quarter. This at the same time that inflation pressures remain stubbornly dormant. And remember this report next month will reflect the August downturn in fuel prices. With the core PCE index out of the way, next week's August employment report looks to be the last big question mark going into the September 17 FOMC.
Favorable Beginning for Third Quarter GDP?

Let's investigate the above Bloomberg claim "The growth side of this report is very favorable and marks a good beginning for the third quarter."

Today's GDPNow Forecast 

The Atlanta Fed GDPNow Forecast sees it this way:

"The GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the third quarter of 2015 is 1.2 percent on August 28, down from 1.4 percent on August 26. The forecast for real GDP growth in the third quarter decreased by 0.2 percentage points following this morning's personal income and outlays report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The slight decline in the model's forecast was primarily due to some weakness in real services consumption for July, which lowered the model's estimate for personal consumption expenditures from 3.1 percent to 2.6 percent for the third quarter."

GDP Now Model

GDP By Quarter

2015 Q1: 0.6%
2015 Q2: 3.7%
2015 Q3: 1.2% GDP Nowcast

Fed Queen Race

Consumer spending is supposedly humming along. GDP is not doing much of anything.

This reminds me of the Red Queen Race, an incident in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass that involves the Red Queen and Alice constantly running but remaining in the same spot.

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Clearly we need to sell twice as many autos to get GDP where the Fed wants it to go.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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