MacroScope

Yellen selection no surprise to Reuters poll readers

President Barack Obama nominating Janet Yellen to head up the U.S. Federal Reserve came as little surprise to market watchers who read Reuters polls.

The current vice chair of the central bank was the clear frontrunner in two polls of economists, conducted by Reuters in June and August, to succeed Ben Bernanke when his term expires early next year.

All bar four of 44 economists polled in June thought she would take over although that decisiveness had slipped by August, when eight respondents changed their minds.

Four swapped their allegience to Obama’s former economic advisor Larry Summers, putting him on eight votes out of 39 in the second poll.

Summers, her closest contender, then pulled out of the race in the face of fierce opposition within the president’s own Democratic Party that raised questions about his chances of congressional confirmation.

Has dawn broken over Britain’s economy?

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday he was wary of another “false dawn” for Britain’s economy, but economists polled by Reuters are generally more optimistic.

The poll, published on Wednesday and taken ahead of an unexpected fall in unemployment, said the economy would expand a relatively healthy 0.7 percent in the current three month period and then by 0.5 percent per quarter through to early 2015.

And that comes after better than expected 0.7 percent growth in the second quarter.

Forecasts for the euro zone depend more on head office location than analysis

Ask an economist a question about the euro zone, and the answer will as much depend on the location of their head office as any analysis of the data.

It’s been noted before (herehere, and here), but economists and fund managers working for euro zone-based banks and research houses tend to be optimists about the euro zone. Everywhere else – including Britain, North America and the Nordics – they tend to be pessimists.

That familiar pattern was plain to see in the latest Reuters poll this week, as economists were asked on whether borrowing costs for struggling euro zone countries like Spain and Italy were likely to return to danger levels in the next few months.

Although it seems routine, rising euro zone unemployment is still shocking

 

Another month, another rise in the number of jobless in the euro zone.

As expected, the unemployment rate hit a new record 12.2 percent in April, according to Eurostat on Friday, meaning some 19,375,000 euro zone citizens are out of work.

That’s more than the populations of Austria and Belgium combined and almost a quarter are aged under-25.

However, it’s worth remembering that not so long ago, hardly any economists expected to see unemployment climb to these levels.

UK’s independent forecaster takes a reality check

An unusual thing happened on Wednesday amidst all the shouting over British finance minister George Osborne’s autumn budget update which, depending on who you asked, outlined an increasingly dire or healthy state of the UK economy.

On the very near-term economic  outlook at least, officialdom actually sounded more pessimistic than most of even its harshest critics.

Britain’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility said it expects the UK economy will contract in the period ending this month by 0.1 percent — a gloomier forecast than the consensus of economists polled by Reuters, for 0.1 percent growth.

An unpleasant surprise may lurk in euro zone GDP numbers

The euro zone economy may be doing far worse than most economists want to believe. That’s not good news for a central bank trying to rescue the single currency through a hotly-contested bond purchasing programme that has yet to get started.

The latest flash purchasing managers’ indexes, which cover thousands of euro zone companies, suggest the third quarter will mark the euro zone’s worst economic performance since the dark days of early 2009, according to Markit, which compiles them.

They predict the economy likely shrank by 0.6 percent in the quarter that finishes at the end of this month.

July non-farm payrolls to disappoint a fifth month in a row?

U.S. non-farm payrolls have come in below the Reuters Poll consensus for the past four months, the longest streak since an eight-month period in 2008-09 when the U.S. was in the depths of recession and, at one point, losing more than half a million jobs a month.

Compared with a few years ago when there was a very wild range of forecasts on a given jobs report — the widest spread polled since the financial crisis began was 575,000 for the May 2010 data — economists are now huddling together in a pessimistic pack.

For the July data, due out at 1230 GMT, the range of forecasts in the Reuters Poll (on a consensus of 100,000) has narrowed to a 107,000 spread between highest and lowest, compared with 132,000 for the June data.

Who expects euro bonds? Look outside the euro zone

It’s already been established that economists’ predictions about the euro zone’s future hinge largely on where their employer is based. Euro zone optimists tend to work for euro zone banks and research houses, and euro zone sceptics for companies based outside the currency union.

It somewhat undermined the idea their analyses are based purely on hard-headed economics, and less on national factors.

There was an echo of that in this week’s of economists and fixed income strategists, who were asked whether they expect euro zone leaders will agree to the issuance of a common euro zone bond, as backed by new French President Francois Hollande.

Euro zone survival is in the eye of the beholder

Despite all their years of experience and complex mathematical models, for economists the question of the euro zone’s survival really has them at the mercy of national bias… at least in terms of where their employer is based.

One of the key points from the latest Reuters poll was that a majority of economists from banks and research houses around the world – 37 out of 59 – expect the euro zone to survive in its current form for the next 12 months.

But behind that headline figure, the answers were skewed heavily by region.

Only 5 out of 24 economists from organisations based inside the euro zone thought it would fail to survive in its present 17-nation form over the next 12 months.

Recession predictions? Better late than never

The chances of a second U.S. recession are rising. But just how high a probability is always difficult to gauge. The latest Reuters consensus from private sector economists – most employed by an industry that got us into the mess – is currently one in four. That’s not very high, but it has crept up from one-in-five when we asked the same people two weeks ago.

In the meantime, the U.S. has done what many would never have thought possible – it lost its AAA sovereign debt rating from Standard & Poor’s, thanks to an acrimonious political debate over the debt ceiling and, in S&P’s judgment, inadequate legislation to tackle deficits over the long-term. Global stock markets have plummeted 20 percent since May, racking up staggering losses over the past few days, rattled by that U.S. rating downgrade, worries about a world economic slowdown, and a spiralling euro zone debt crisis that now is lapping at the shores of a G7 country — Italy.

The fact it’s been too long since the Great Recession technically ended to call any new recession a “double-dip” shows just how dire the situation is. Nouriel Roubini, known to most as “Dr Doom” for talking down the U.S. economy through bubble years but getting the call right on the last recession, is one of the few who have already called the next one.