Sunday, February 01, 2015

Demographics and GDP: 2% is the new 4%

by Bill McBride on 2/01/2015 08:11:00 AM

For amusement, I checked out the WSJ opinion page comments on the Q4 GDP report. As usual, the WSJ opinion is pure politics - but it does bring up an excellent point (that the WSJ conveniently ignores).

First, from the WSJ opinion page:

The fourth quarter report means that growth for all of 2014 clocked in at 2.4%, which is the best since 2.5% in 2010. It also means another year, an astonishing ninth in a row, in which the economy did not grow by 3%.
This period of low growth isn't "astonishing". First, usually following a recession, there is a brief period of above average growth - but not this time due to the financial crisis and need for households to deleverage. So we didn't see a strong bounce back (sluggish growth was predict on the blog for the first years of the recovery).

And overall, we should have been expecting slower growth this decade due to demographics - even without the housing bubble-bust and financial crisis (that the WSJ opinion page missed).

One simple way to look at the change in GDP is as the change in the labor force, times the change in productivity. If the labor force is growing quickly, GDP will be higher with the same gains in productivity. And the opposite is true.

So here is a graph of the year-over-year change in the labor force since 1950 (data from the BLS).

Year-over-year Change Labor ForceClick on graph for larger image

The data is noisy - because of changes in population controls and the business cycle - but the pattern is clear as indicated by the dashed red trend line. The labor force has been growing slowly recently after declining for some time.

We could also look at just the prime working age population - I've pointed out before the that prime working age population has just started growing again after declining for a few years (see Prime Working-Age Population Growing Again)

Now here is a look at GDP for the same period.

Year-over-year Change GDPThe GDP data (year-over-year quarterly) is also noisy, and the dashed blue line shows the trend.

GDP was high in the early 50s - and early-to-mid 60s because of government spending (Korean and Vietnam wars).  As in example, in 1951, national defense added added 6.5 percentage points to GDP.  Of course we don't want another war ...

Now lets put the two graphs together.

Year-over-year Change Labor Force and GDPIt isn't a surprise. Other than the early period with a boost from government spending, the growth in GDP has been tracking the growth in the labor force pretty well.  The difference in growth between the dashed blue and red lines is due to gains in productivity.

The good news is that will change going forward (prime working age population will grow faster next decade).  The bad news is the political hacks will continue to ignore demographics.

Right now, due to demographics, 2% GDP growth is the new 4%.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Schedule for Week of February 1, 2015

by Bill McBride on 1/31/2015 01:11:00 PM

The key report this week is the January employment report on Friday.

Other key reports include the January ISM manufacturing index on Monday, January vehicle sales on Tuesday, the ISM non-manufacturing index on Wednesday, and the December Trade Deficit on Thursday.

----- Monday, February 2nd -----

8:30 AM ET: Personal Income and Outlays for December. The consensus is for a 0.2% increase in personal income, and for a 0.2% decrease in personal spending. And for the Core PCE price index to be unchanged.

ISM PMI10:00 AM: ISM Manufacturing Index for January. The consensus is for a decrease to 54.5 from 55.5 in December.

Here is a long term graph of the ISM manufacturing index.

The ISM manufacturing index indicated expansion in December at 55.5%. The employment index was at 56.8%, and the new orders index was at 57.3%

10:00 AM: Construction Spending for December. The consensus is for a 0.6% increase in construction spending.

----- Tuesday, February 3rd -----

Vehicle SalesAll day: Light vehicle sales for January. The consensus is for light vehicle sales to decrease to 16.6 million SAAR in January from 16.8 million in December (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

This graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967. The dashed line is the December sales rate.

10:00 AM: Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders (Factory Orders) for December. The consensus is for a 2.0 decrease in December orders.

----- Wednesday, February 4th -----

7:00 AM: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

8:15 AM: The ADP Employment Report for January. This report is for private payrolls only (no government). The consensus is for 220,000 payroll jobs added in January, down from 241,000 in December.

10:00 AM: ISM non-Manufacturing Index for January. The consensus is for a reading of 56.5, up from 56.2 in December. Note: Above 50 indicates expansion.

----- Thursday, February 5th -----

8:30 AM: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for claims to increase to 290 thousand from 265 thousand.

U.S. Trade Deficit8:30 AM: Trade Balance report for December from the Census Bureau.

This graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum, through November. The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

The consensus is for the U.S. trade deficit to be at $38.0 billion in December from $39.0 billion in November.

----- Friday, February 6th -----

8:30 AM: Employment Report for January. The consensus is for an increase of 230,000 non-farm payroll jobs added in January, up from the 252,000 non-farm payroll jobs added in December.

The consensus is for the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 5.6% in January from 5.6% the previous month.

Year-over-year change employmentThis graph shows the year-over-year change in total non-farm employment since 1968.

In December, the year-over-year change was 2.95 million jobs, and that should increase further in January.

As always, a key will be the change in real wages - and as the unemployment rate falls, wage growth should eventually start to pickup.

Notes: The annual benchmark revision will be released with the January report. The preliminary estimate was an additional 7,000 jobs as of March 2014.

Also, the new population controls will be used in the Current Population Survey (CPS) estimation process. It is important to note that "household survey data for January 2015 will not be directly comparable with data for December 2014 or earlier periods". Someone better alert Rick Santelli at CNBC!

3:00 PM: Consumer Credit for December from the Federal Reserve.  The consensus is for credit to increase $15.0 billion.

Unofficial Problem Bank list declines to 388 Institutions

by Bill McBride on 1/31/2015 08:05:00 AM

This is an unofficial list of Problem Banks compiled only from public sources.

Here is the unofficial problem bank list for Jan 30, 2015.

Changes and comments from surferdude808:

As expected, the FDIC released an update on its enforcement action activities through December 2014 that contributed to all of the changes to the Unofficial Problem Bank List this week. In all, there were five removals and three additions that leave the list at 388 institutions with assets of $122.5 billion. A year ago, the list held 590 institutions with assets of $195.4 billion. When the weekly was list was first published back on August 7, 2009 it had 389 institutions, so this is the first time a subsequent list held fewer institutions than its inception. There are still 53 institutions from the original list that still remain on it.

FDIC terminated actions against Signature Bank of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR ($492 million); Village Bank, Saint Francis, MN ($176 million); Golden Eagle Community Bank, Woodstock, IL ($136 million); The Wilmington Savings Bank, Wilmington, OH ($127 million); and VistaBank, Aiken, SC ($107 million).

FDIC issued new actions against Seaway Bank and Trust Company, Chicago, IL ($522 million); International Bank, Raton, NM ($292 million); and Sage Bank, Lowell, MA ($208 million).

Next week will likely see fewer changes to the list.
CR Note: As Surfer Dude noted, the list has come full circle (back to number when we started)!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Restaurant Performance Index shows Expansion in December

by Bill McBride on 1/30/2015 05:47:00 PM

I think restaurants are happy with lower gasoline prices (except, I hear, McDonald's) ...

Here is a minor indicator I follow from the National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Performance Index Finished the Year on a Positive Note

Driven by positive sales and traffic and an uptick in capital expenditures, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) finished 2014 with a solid gain. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 102.9 in December, up 0.8 percent from its November level of 102.1. In addition, December marked the 22nd consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Growth in the RPI was driven by the current situation indicators in December, with a solid majority of restaurant operators reporting higher same-store sales and customer traffic levels,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In addition, six in 10 operators reported making a capital expenditure during the fourth quarter, with a similar proportion planning for capital spending in the first half of 2015.”

“Overall, the RPI posted three consecutive months above 102 for the first time since the first quarter of 2006, which puts the industry on a positive track heading into 2015,” Riehle added.
emphasis added
Restaurant Performance Index Click on graph for larger image.

The index increased to 102.9 in December, down from 102.1 in November. (above 100 indicates expansion).

Restaurant spending is discretionary, so even though this is "D-list" data, I like to check it every month. This is a very solid reading - and it is likely restaurants are benefiting from lower gasoline prices.

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Serious Delinquency rate declined in December

by Bill McBride on 1/30/2015 02:31:00 PM

Freddie Mac reported that the Single-Family serious delinquency rate declined in December to 1.88%, down from 1.91% in November. Freddie's rate is down from 2.39% in December 2013, and the rate in December was the lowest level since December 2008. Freddie's serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.20%.

These are mortgage loans that are "three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure". 

Note: Fannie Mae will report their Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate for December next week.

Fannie Freddie Seriously Delinquent RateClick on graph for larger image

Although the rate is generally declining, the "normal" serious delinquency rate is under 1%. 

The serious delinquency rate has fallen 0.51 percentage points over the last year - and the rate of improvement has slowed recently - but at that rate of improvement, the serious delinquency rate will not be below 1% until late 2016.

Note: Very few seriously delinquent loans cure with the owner making up back payments - most of the reduction in the serious delinquency rate is from foreclosures, short sales, and modifications. 

So even though distressed sales are declining, I expect an above normal level of Fannie and Freddie distressed sales for 2+ more years (mostly in judicial foreclosure states).

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