Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wednesday: Retail Sales

by Bill McBride on 2/12/2013 08:44:00 PM

On the deficit, from Jed Graham at investors.com:

Here's a pretty important fact that virtually everyone in Washington seems oblivious to: The federal deficit has never fallen as fast as it's falling now without a coincident recession.

To be specific, CBO expects the deficit to shrink from 8.7% of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 5.3% in fiscal 2013 if the sequester takes effect and to 5.5% if it doesn't. Either way, the two-year deficit reduction — equal to 3.4% of the economy if automatic budget cuts are triggered and 3.2% if not — would stand far above any other fiscal tightening since World War II.

Until the aftermath of the Great Recession, there were only three such periods in which the deficit shrank by a cumulative 2% of GDP or more. The 1960-61 and 1969-70 episodes both helped bring about a recession.
This fits with the graph I posted last week:

US Federal Government Budget Surplus DeficitClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the actual (purple) budget deficit each year as a percent of GDP, and an estimate for the next ten years based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO deficit estimates are even lower than my projections.

After 2015, the deficit will start to increase again according to the CBO, but as I've noted before, we really don't want to reduce the deficit much faster than this path over the next few years, because that will be too much of a drag on the economy. 

Wednesday economic releases:
• At 7:00 AM ET, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

• At 8:30 AM ET, Retail sales for January will be released. The consensus is for retail sales to increase 0.1% in January, and to increase 0.2% ex-autos.

• 10:00 AM, the Manufacturing and Trade: Inventories and Sales (business inventories) report for December will be released. The consensus is for a 0.3% increase in inventories.

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