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The U.S. economy is closing out 2016 on a firm footing. The household sector is in good shape. Post-election optimism may contribute to a pickup in business fixed investment. The global outlook is a bit brighter, although challenges remain.
Republicans control the White House and Congress, which should make it easier to get things done. However, there are likely to be some conflicts between the incoming administration and establishment Republicans in Congress. Power transitions are typically bumpy, with many unforeseen events.
Monetary policy will remain data-dependent, but the Federal Reserve is still expected to raise short-term interest rates gradually. Expectations of a larger federal budget deficit
have lifted long-term interest rates, but low rates abroad should prevent U.S. bond yields from rising too rapidly.
The unexpected result of the presidential election has generated optimism that reduced regulations, added infrastructure spending, and lower taxes will spur growth.
However, the economy appears to be relatively close to full employment. If so, fiscal stimulus would be more likely to add to inflation or fuel asset bubbles. Expectations of increased government borrowing have lifted long-term interest rates.
It’s unclear what policies we’ll get out of Washington in 2017. A trade war remains a significant risk.
Brexit will be bad for the U.K. economy, but should have a very limited impact on U.S. growth.
Recent data reports have been consistent with mixed, but moderate growth in the U.S. Payroll numbers have been choppy, reflecting noise in the data, but the trend has slowed, signaling both business caution and a tighter job market.
The Fed remains in tightening mode, expecting to resume policy normalization at some point. However, officials should not be in any hurry to raise rates
Nonfarm payrolls rose more slowly in the three months ending in May, which may reflect noisy data. However, job gains will slow as the labor market tightens, and future labor force growth will be a lot slower than in previous decades.
U.S. economic growth is likely to be moderately strong in the near term, led by consumer spending, but restrained by continued subpar global growth and cautious business investment.
The Fed’s policy outlook is geared on tighter labor market conditions and a desire to normalize policy over time. However, asymmetric risks, global concerns, and business caution should keep short-term interest rates on a gradual path.
Recent economic data reports have been generally soft, suggesting relatively weak GDP growth in the first quarter. However, the data are also consistent with moderate growth in the near term – not strong, but not terribly weak either.
Following signs of a pickup in core inflation in January and February, March inflation figures were more benign. Combined with the moderate growth outlook, the Fed’s gradual path of policy normalization should be even more gradual.
Much of the fear that was rampant at the start of the year (China, Fed tightening, a too-strong dollar, a possibility of “recession”) has subsided. As in the last few years, the economic expansion is expected to continue, but not so fast that the Fed rushes to take away the punch bowl.
The consumer outlook remains positive, driven by job gains, wage growth, and a further decline in gasoline prices. Consumers are concerned about the overall economy, but generally feel better about their own financial situation.
Businesses remain mostly cautious amid concerns about global growth, fear of “recession,” and election-year uncertainty. Foreign trade and an inventory correction are likely to be moderate drags on GDP growth in the near term.
The Fed remains in tightening mode, but recent financial market developments should keep monetary policy on hold in the near term. A June hike is likely to be on the table, but the decision to move will remain data-dependent.
China’s stock market troubles have fanned concerns about the strength of the country’s economy and the ability of Chinese authorities to stabilize the situation. However, the bigger concern is the yuan, which is under considerable pressure
The U.S. economic data have been mixed, with signs of somewhat slower GDP growth, but continued strength in jobs.
The Fed is still expected to raise short-term interest rates further, but global disruptions are likely to lead officials to delay the second rate hike beyond March.
The theme of domestic strength and global weakness is expected to remain prevalent into the first half of the year. Job growth is expected to remain strong, but likely slower than in the last two years. The benefit to consumer spending from lower gasoline prices should fade as energy prices stabilize.
The global outlook will be important. The advanced economies are expected to grow moderately, while emerging economies should be mixed. The Chinese currency is likely to depreciate a lot more, but gradually over the course of 2016.
The Fed is expected to raise rates gradually (25 basis points at every other policy meeting), but policy action will be data- dependent and the risks are that it will be less aggressive.
U.S. economic activity has appeared mixed, but generally moderate into 4Q15, with a strong (but somewhat slower) trend in job growth and low inflation.
Downside risks (to the U.S. economy) from the rest of the world appear less worrisome than a couple of months ago.
Federal Reserve officials have signaled a strong likelihood that short-term interest rates will be raised in December. More importantly, while further policy tightening will be datadependent, the pace of rate increases is expected to be gradual.
The slowdown in global growth and the stronger dollar have restrained U.S. exports. A wider trade deficit and an inventory correction are expected to subtract from GDP growth.
In contrast, consumer spending growth appears to have remained brisk, factory shipments of capital goods have improved, and the housing sector continues to recover.
Since postponing the initial increase in short-term rates in mid-September, most Fed officials (including Chair Yellen) have indicated that a rate hike is likely to be warranted by the end of the year. The markets believe the Fed will wait until 2016.
Global financial and economic developments are expected to have a mixed, but uncertain, impact on the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve is still set to raise short-term interest rate. Officials appear to be mixed, but are generally cautious.
Slower global growth and an inventory correction may restrain GDP growth, but domestic demand should benefit from lower commodity prices and is expected to remain strong.
Showdowns over the FY16 budget and the debt ceiling may lead to a government shutdown. While a shutdown would likely have a limited impact on the economy, it could add to financial market anxieties in the weeks ahead.
Fears of slower growth in China and other emerging economies have added to investor anxieties around the world.
While U.S. exporters will face restraints from slower growth abroad, lower commodity prices should be beneficial for consumers and domestic-oriented businesses.
The Fed remains on track to begin raising short-term interest rates, but downward pressure on commodity prices and the lack of a meaningful pickup in wage growth is likely to lead the Fed to delay policy action the near term.
An agreement between Greece and the European Commission has reduced the odds of a near-term exit from the monetary union. However, the country's situation is unresolved and we are likely to see tensions heat up again at some point.
Federal Reserve officials continue to signal that economic conditions are likely to warrant an initial increase in short-term interest rate this year, but they have also emphasized that the more important question is the pace of tightening beyond the first move - and that pace is expected to be gradual.
While Greece is mostly off the table as a near-term risk, U.S. investors are likely to remain concerned about a variety of other issues, including the timing of Fed rate hikes and a possible longer-term slowdown in China.
Growth slowed in the first quarter, reflecting bad weather, West Coast port issues, a contraction in energy exploration, and the impact of a strong dollar, but is widely expected to pick up.
Senior Fed officials continue to suggest that conditions are likely to warrant an initial increase in short-term interest rates this year. However, they also believe that the more important question is the pace of tightening after the first hike, and they suggest that that pace is likely to be very gradual.
Financial market participants face uncertainty regarding the pace of economic growth here and abroad, as well as Fed policy changes, geopolitical worries, and other issues.
The Federal Open Market Committee is widely expected to alter its language in the March 18 policy statement, abandoning the view that it can "be patient" in deciding when to begin raising short-term interest rates. However, that does not mean that the Fed will raise rates anytime soon.
The Fed will have to raise rates eventually. In contrast, other central banks are battling the possibility of deflation. Monetary policy is the major factor in short-term movements in exchange rates. The dollar is likely to strengthen further in the near term.
The strong dollar is a plus for consumers, but a negative for exporters. There are two opposing forces at work on bonds: worries about the rest of the world, which are keeping yields down, and increasing domestic economic strength, which would normally be pushing bond yields higher.
U.S. economic growth should pick up in 2015, as lower gasoline prices are expected to provide significant support for consumer spending. Importantly, the expansion is now characterized by an improving outlook for small and mediumsized businesses, which should continue to propel economic growth even after gasoline prices stop falling.
The outlook for other advanced economies has softened further and emerging economies are likely to be a bit spotty in 2015. The U.S. dollar should continue to strengthen and a flight to quality is expected to keep long-term interest rates low.
The Federal Reserve is expected to begin normalizing monetary policy in the second half of the year. However, shifting views on the Fed’s timing outlook, economic developments outside the U.S., and geopolitical tensions are likely to keep financial market volatility at elevated levels.