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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thursday: Q1 GDP, Initial Unemployment Claims

by Calculated Risk on 5/29/2013 09:00:00 PM

Tim Duy thinks the Fed might start to taper asset purchases in September: September Looking Good

A "few more months" I interpret as June, July, and August, which puts the beginning of tapering at the September FOMC meeting. I think that Fed speakers are sending pretty clear signals to prepare for a September policy change.

Some big names on Wall Street don't agree. Vincent Reinhart at Morgan Stanley believes the data will push the Fed back to December. The view at Goldman Sachs is reportedly similar. To be sure, the data might cut in that direction, but I think that the bar to tapering might be lower than believed by those looking for a shift in December. We may believe the Federal Reserve's dual mandate argues for a longer period of QE at its current pace, but I am thinking that for the Federal Reserve, the dual mandate has more to do with the lift-off date from ZIRP than the end of QE. They have tended to argue for more or less QE on the basis of "stronger and sustainable" improvement in labor markets, and, given the obvious shift in tone among Fed speakers, I think we have reached that benchmark. At this point, they are just looking for a little more confirmation, in their minds erring on the side of being "too easy."

A lot of data will be coming in the door over the next week and a half, culminating in the all-important employment report on Friday, June 5. I think even a moderately positive run of data will further cement a September shift.
Most analysts expect some economic slowdown in Q2 and Q3 due to the significant fiscal drag over the next couple of quarters. I expect the Fed will wait and see how much fiscal policy impacts growth and employment, so - unless the data is very strong - I think the Fed will wait until at least September before they start tapering.

Of course "tapering" is still very accommodative.

Thursday economic releases:
• At 7:00 AM ET, the BEA will release the second estimate of Q1 GDP. The consensus is that real GDP increased 2.5% annualized in Q1, unchanged from the advance report.

• Also at 8:30 AM, the initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for claims at 340 thousand, unchanged from last week.

• At 10:00 AM, the NAR will release Pending Home Sales Index for April. The consensus is for a 1.4% increase in the index