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GDPNow Is Flashing Stagflation, Maybe Recession

Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. economy is overheating. New workers are virtually unavailable, raw material costs are soaring, and of course financial asset prices are in the stratosphere. And that’s why the Fed has to tighten aggressively.

This is a compelling argument since most of the stats backing it are real.

However … all of the above might soon become obsolete in the face of dramatically slowing growth. The jury is still out, but the latest reading on the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow real-time growth measure is pretty grim.

The blue line on the following chart represents the consensus of top economists, while the green line is GDPNow’s growth rate based on the most recent numbers. The latter is brutal, as close to zero as it’s possible to get. But – much more important – even the higher consensus growth rate is too low for the “overheating” thesis. And it’s trending down.

Part of this sudden reversal of economic fortune is due to the US Q4 GDP report being mostly hot air, inflated as it was by a massive inventory build which will detract from rather than contribute to future growth. See Mike Shedlock’s GDP Up 6.9% Is Mostly An Artificially Boosted Illusion.

The upshot: Economic spirits might change dramatically in the next few months, with corresponding changes in interest rates, stock prices, and all the rest. Strap in!

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