Monday, March 20, 2017

Dueling GDP Estimates

What does the Fed think of the economy in the first quarter, which comes to a close in a couple of weeks? It depends on which Federal Reserve Bank you ask.

The Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and New York both publish trackers that gather and crunch data as it comes in, as part of their mandate to evaluate how the economy is faring. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow tracker is projecting that first-quarter GDP growth will be particularly weak, at only 0.9 percent. The New York Fed’s Nowcast, by contrast, is forecasting a far stronger economy, with first-quarter growth at 2.8 percent as of Friday.

Early in January, the New York Fed’s estimate was just 1.5 percent, but it started rising sharply late in that month, first on strong manufacturing data, and then on particularly robust readings of business and consumer sentiment. We'll find out if they're right when the first estimate of GDP comes in on April 28.

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