Thursday, February 19th, 2009
The board members of the Federal Reserve are becoming more pessimistic about the economy. Bloomberg reports:
Fed officials, at their policy meeting in late January, said the economy would contract between 0.5% and 1.3% this year, far worse than their October projections spanning between a 0.2% decline and 1.1% expansion. The figures exclude the three highest and lowest forecasts of the Fed’s 16 sitting policy makers at the time. If all projections are included, the output forecast ranges from a decline of 2.5% to a gain of 0.2%.
The odd thing about these projections, or those of most private economists, is that they are an order of magnitude less severe than any numbers that real businesses are experiencing at present. (For that matter, last year’s numbers are suspciously mild, with GDP contracting 4.3% in the second half of ’08.)
Car sales are down 30-40% year over year. Housing construction is off 17% versus a year ago. Layoffs each week have doubled versus a year ago. Many retailers are seeing 10-20% contraction in sales. Industrial production dropped 1.7% last month alone. (Off nearly 12% in the last year.)
Virtually the only big name companies that are reporting ANY significant growth are Walmart (+2.8% year over year), McDonalds (+5.4% year over year) and Google (growing 3% a quarter?) The only segments, overall, that are reporting employment growth, very moderate, are education, government and healthcare.
What’s missing? Are we going to see massive downward revisions?