This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 30 September 2022

By: Taro Chellaram /Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report/Oct 03, 2022

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 30 September 2022

Incoming economic data demonstrate that while the economy is losing momentum, activity remains resilient. Consumer confidence rose to the highest level in six months in September, and stripping out some volatility in new orders for durable goods revealed stabilization in demand and strength in Q3 equipment spending. The third release of second-quarter GDP growth also included revisions that put the economy in a stronger position coming out of the pandemic-induced recession than previously thought. Consumer spending in particular has been unwavering, with real personal spending rising 0.1% in August.

With little indication that households have lost their staying power, we have adjusted our forecast. The current resilience in economic activity does not dismiss an eventual recession, but it does make it less likely that a recession will start by the beginning of next year. Near-term strength also means more monetary tightening will likely be necessary to slow growth sufficiently enough to quell elevated inflation. As we detail in this week's Interest Rate Watch, we now project the FOMC to hike its federal funds rate by an additional 125 bps this year and another 50 bps at the start of next year, which would bring the target range of the federal funds rate to 4.75%-5.00% by March (chart).

Importantly, we still see the economy falling into a mild recession next year, but we now expect it to take place slightly later, beginning in the second rather than first quarter, as the lagged effects of monetary policy begin to bite more meaningfully into consumption and weigh on the ability of firms to hire. An important consideration is that the economic trade off for growth today is the potential for a worse hit to households later. Consumers have increasingly relied on their balance sheets to spend with wage gains not keeping pace with inflation. The longer that lasts, the larger the deterioration in household finances. For this reason, we are now looking for a slightly larger decline in real personal consumption expenditures in our latest projections with a peak-to-trough decline of 1.0% compared to 0.6% previously

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