From its exuberant 5.4% expectation for Q1 GDP at the start of February, The Atlanta Fed's guess has collapsed to just 1.9% as CPI and retail sales disappointments weigh on their outlook.
Latest forecast: 1.9 percent — March 14, 2018
The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of 2018 is 1.9 percent on March 14, down from 2.5 percent on March 9. After yesterday's Consumer Price Index release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and this morning's retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of first-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth fell from 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent.
GDPNOW is now well below consensus expectations...
Which is not entirely unexpected as we have seen this pattern of disappointment for the last 8 quarters...
And the weakness in recent US macro data suggests no rebound anytime soon...
But it's not just The Atlanta Fed, Goldman has taken an ax to its forecast also:
Today’s retail sales report was below even our own tempered expectations and followed similar weakness in January.
We estimate that the February tax refund delays were larger in magnitude than the tax cuts boosting consumer paychecks. As these refunds arrive in consumer bank accounts this month, the combined fiscal impulse swings to a clear positive, and we expect March retail spending to pick up significantly as a result.
Nonetheless, this potential improvement may arrive too late to prevent a significant deceleration in quarterly consumption growth (following +3.8% in Q4).
Accordingly, we lowered our Q1 GDP tracking estimate by two tenths to +1.8% (qoq ar).
And this is the declining economic growth picture that The Fed is jawboning 5 rate-hikes into?