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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fed's Fisher: Suboptimal Growth in 2010, "Perhaps" 2011

by Calculated Risk on 11/10/2009 07:39:00 PM

"[L]ooking into 2010 and perhaps to 2011, the most likely outcome is for growth to be suboptimal, unemployment to remain a vexing problem and inflation to remain subdued."
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher
And a little more Fed Speak ... (note: Fisher's speeches are always colorful).

From Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher: The Current State of the Economy and a Look to the Future
Now, I’ve often thought that economic forecasters seem to be cursed—or maybe blessed, I suppose, dependent upon your point-of-view—with a short-term memory: They tend to extrapolate only the most recent trends into the future. As if goosed by the more optimistic tone of the latest GDP release, many now believe that solid output growth will extend into the first half of next year. The latest Blue Chip survey, for example, shows that professional forecasters expect GDP growth averaging 2.8 percent in the first half of 2010.

I am wary of the consensus view. For a good while now, I’ve suggested that we are more likely to see a more uneven recovery—not a “V”-shaped recovery but something more akin to a check mark, where the elongated arm of that check mark inclines at a slope that is less than desirable and might possibly be repressed by an occasional pause or several quarters of weak growth.

Why a check mark?

Several recent sources of strength are likely to wane as we head into next year. Cash-for-clunkers and the first-time-homebuyer tax credit have both shifted demand forward, increasing sales today at the expense of sales tomorrow. Neither of these programs can be repeated with any real hope of achieving anywhere near the same effect: The more demand you steal from the future, the less future demand there is for you to steal. The general tax cuts and government spending increases included in this year’s fiscal stimulus package won’t have their peak impact on the level of GDP until sometime in 2010, but their peak impact on the growth of GDP has come and gone; the fiscal stimulus continues to drive GDP upward, compared with what it would otherwise have been, but the increments to GDP are beginning to shrink. And, as we all know, the shot in the arm that our economy is receiving from inventory adjustments is, while welcome, inherently transitory.

What about growth in the longer term—the second half of 2010 and beyond? American households have finally come to realize that they’ve been playing the part of the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable: They see that our previous spending boom was financed by somewhat reckless disregard for tomorrow by over-eager creditors feeding their desire for unsustainable leveraging of their income and balance sheets and, for the nation as a whole, by increases in overseas borrowing. That reality has been largely absorbed, and consumer spending is growing again—albeit from a lower base and at a slower pace. I doubt it will recover its previous vigor for some time to come. I expect that the strong bounce-back in consumer demand that we’ve come to expect in recoveries past will be absent this time around as Americans recalibrate the proportion of their income and wealth that they need to save versus what they need to consume. We need not become a nation as parsimonious as William Miles, but we are going to have to be more ant- than grasshopper-like in our behavior.[4]
It may be some time before significant job growth occurs and even longer before we see meaningful declines in the unemployment rate.
emphasis added
And Fisher is usually one of the more optimistic Fed presidents.