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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flashback to August 2011 and 2013 (And a hint for 2015)

by Calculated Risk on 8/13/2014 11:44:00 AM

Here are two posts from August in 2011 and 2013.

First, from August 14, 2011: Event Driven Declines in Consumer Sentiment.

Consumer sentiment had plunged to the lowest level in 30 years. This (and other data) led many analysts to predict the US was headed into a recession. As an example, from the WSJ in September 2011: Recession Is a ‘Done Deal,’ Per ECRI

“We are going into a recession,” ECRI director Lakshman Achuthan told CNBC this morning. “Last week we announced to our clients we are slipping into a recession. This is the first time I’m saying it publicly.”
I disagreed.  In the above post I argued that the plunge in sentiment was due to the threat by Congress not to pay the bills (event driven), and that sentiment would bounce quickly.  I wrote:
My feeling is the debt ceiling decline - assuming the decline was due to the insanity in D.C. - is most similar to the 1987 stock market crash (that scared everyone, but had little impact on the economy) and to Hurricane Katrina (although Katrina led to higher oil prices and a direct impact on consumption in several gulf states).

If I'm correct, then sentiment should bounce back fairly quickly - but only to an already low level. And the impact on consumption should be minimal.
Second, from August 12, 2013: Comment: The Key Downside Economic Risk

At the beginning of every year I post Ten Economic Questions for the year. Since 2013 (like 2011) was an off-year for elections, I expected Congress to act up again and ranked fiscal policy as the #1 downside risk in 2013. I wrote in August 2013:
Unfortunately we live in the real world, and politics trump reality. ...

Still - even in the insane world of politics - the debt ceiling is a fake issue (the House will cave again - they have no choice). And hopefully we will not see a government shutdown, but I expect the negotiations will go down to the wire. My guess is we will see another "continuing resolution", but you never know with politics.

The good news is these showdowns mostly happen in odd years with the hope that the voters will forget the congressional shenanigans by the next election. So IF we can get through the fall, fiscal policy will probably not be a big downside risk in 2014. Unfortunately that is a big "if".
I was correct about the Debt Ceiling (this is a fake issue and should be eliminated), but I was too optimistic about the government shutdown. And I was correct fiscal policy is not a big downside risk this year, but this does remind us about 2015!

While most of the media is focused on the 2014 election "horse race", I'm concerned about the downside risks in 2015 from more "shenanigans".   Unfortunately voters have short memories.