US economic data took a double hit this morning with a contraction in durable goods orders and perhaps even more notably, the US merchandise-trade deficit widened to a fresh record in September as exports retreated for the first time in seven months.
The goods trade deficit increased by $8.1bn in September (mom sa), much more than expected, to $96.3 billion.
It appears the container ship crisis is starting to blowback into the economy as the value of imports rose 0.5% to $238.4 billion, spurred by a 3.6% increase in the value of capital-goods shipments, while exports fell 4.7% from a record high in August to $142.2 billion, driven by a 9.9% decline in the value of outward shipments of industrial supplies and a 3.6% drop in capital goods.
This prompted Goldman Sachs to reduce their Q3 GDP tracking estimate by 0.5pp to 2.75% (qoq ar) ahead of tomorrow’s advance release.
But, at a time when the Wall Street banks are scratching their heads for credible explanations why they are keeping (or raising) their year-end S&P targets at a time when economic growth is in freefall and inflation is soaring (read: stagflation), an unexpected source of honesty has emerged – the Atlanta Fed, which now sees the US on the verge of contraction.
In its latest GDPNow forecast published moments ago, the Atlanta Fed slashed its estimate for real GDP growth in the third quarter of 2021 to just 0.2%, down from 1.2% on October 15, from 6% about two months ago, and down from 14% back in May.
Remarkably, the GDPNow tracker is about to turn negative even as the average “blue chip” Wall Street bank has a Q3 GDP forecast of just below 4%…
The collapse in the Atlanta Fed tracker has correlated almost tick for tick with Citi’s US macro surprise index which has also plunged in recent months…
… which in turn is the inverse of Citi’s inflation surprise index:
According to the Atlanta Fed economists, after releases from the US Census Bureau, the National Association of Realtors, and the US Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, a decrease in the nowcast of third-quarter real government spending growth from 2.1 percent to 0.8 percent was slightly offset by an increase in the nowcast of third-quarter real gross private domestic investment growth from 9.0 percent to 9.3 percent. Also, the nowcast of the contribution of the change in real net exports to third-quarter real GDP growth decreased from -1.56 percentage points to -1.81 percentage points.
In short, everything is slowing and it is the consumer – that 70% driver of GDP growth – that may be about to hit reverse.