Congressional Budget Office

Why The "Output Gap" Inflation Model May Be Fatally Flawed

Could it be that the fundamental economic indicator that is gospel not only to Goldman Sachs, but to Ben Bernanke in estimating and determining monetary policy, the output gap, provides a flawed reading of the economy? As a reminder, Ben Bernanke has repeatedly expressed little regard for either commodity inflation or US dollar exchange as having an impact on overall US inflation. As Askari and Hochain state: "according to [Bernanke's] theory, inflation was related only to the output gap. As long as the output gap was negative, that is, if actual gross domestic product was below potential GDP, the economy was at no risk of inflation. Hence, he argued that the central bank had to adopt an aggressive money policy until the output gap closed. Such is the policy prescription from what is called the Taylor Rule or the Phillips Curve. Because potential GDP is not a measured macroeconomic variable, it can be estimated in millions of ways. There are, therefore, millions of ways for estimating an output gap, making the concept difficult to use as a policy tool." The problem with these millions of estimations, is that especially courtesy of the Greenspan created bubble over the past 20 years, the American economy is, ironically, not a true representation of itself. And thus, the output gap estimates need to be normalized for a "bubble free" GDP environment. It is precisely this issue that none other than the St. Louis Fed addresses in its latest paper: "Has the Recent Real Estate Bubble Biased the Output Gap?" The conclusion is startling: based on a production function output gap normalization (an approach "based on a relation between available productive inputs (such as capital and labor), their current utilization rates, and aggregate production"), Bernanke could be fatally wrong about the economy's "capacity for inflation" courtesy of the CBO's overestimated output gap, and that his loose monetary policy could end up being a disastrous precursor to rampant (and not distant) hyperinflation, due to his blatant avoidance of simple logic when interpreting the economic output gap.

Analyzing The Economic Conditions Needed For Persistently "Exceptionally" Low Rates

One of the key departures by the FOMC yesterday in comparison to prior rate statements, was providing a glimpse into what the specific economic conditions are that warrant continued "exceptionally" low rates. Among these the Fed outlined "low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations"- so long as there is no perceived change to any of these, expect rates to persist in the 0-25 bps zone. Goldman provides some valuable insight on how to interpret these three key considerations by the Fed.

Guest Post: Bucking The Trend

Watch gold and its price reaction in the post recession environment to come. It’s in the divergences relative to historical experience, if they occur, that the important messages will be found for the current cycle. In fact, this is one of our primary focal points of the moment – divergences. Gold just may become quite the very meaningful macro economic character marker that few seem focused upon for this reason. But if indeed gold tells us something very different is afoot in the current cycle, it will also have direct implications for equities, fixed income assets, etc. and the investment community in general that have been trying to discount a typical post recessionary outcome for a good number of months now already. Gold as the very important report card? Exactly.

Congressman Upton Demands Declassification Of Censured Cap-And-Trade Cost Estimates

In response to a FOIA request, Administration officials deliberately censored figures that specify the annual costs cap-and-tax will impose. The Treasury documents appear to confirm what Upton has been saying all along, that cap-and-trade is a national energy tax that will devastate American families. I am particularly interested in the one-page document entitled Domestic Climate Policy that was prepared by Judson Jaffe. The Jaffe document omits important figures, most glaringly, on the annual costs under a cap-and-trade regime, stating, “It will raise energy prices and impose annual costs on the order of XXXXXXXX dollars.” - Congressman Fred Upton

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Not as Bad as You Think?

A few brave economists believe fiscal and monetary stimulus, as well as improved productivity, will help the United States bounce back stronger than anticipated, helping it to leap hurdles such as high unemployment, a soaring budget deficit and a beleaguered consumer.

First Tax-Month Budget Deficit Since 1983

The U.S. reported the first April budget deficit in over 25 years, specifically $21 billion on a significant drop in individual and corporate tax receipts. April, which is traditionally the strongest budget revenue month due to the peak in individual tax revenue collection was unable to buck the trend in second derivatives and green shoots and is likely an indication of just how much worse the economy will get with traditional Treasury revenue sources rapidly disappearing. The Congressional Budget Office, which forecasts a $1.75 trillion budget shortfall for the Sept.

First Tax-Month Budget Deficit Since 1983

The U.S. reported the first April budget deficit in over 25 years, specifically $21 billion on a significant drop in individual and corporate tax receipts. April, which is traditionally the strongest budget revenue month due to the peak in individual tax revenue collection was unable to buck the trend in second derivatives and green shoots and is likely an indication of just how much worse the economy will get with traditional Treasury revenue sources rapidly disappearing. The Congressional Budget Office, which forecasts a $1.75 trillion budget shortfall for the Sept.

Some More Observations On The Budget

Marty Sullivan is out with an insightful analysis of what the U.S. budget will really look like and what the implications for the future are (here and here). While the conclusions are not very surprising, there are some relevant phrasings.

Congressional Budget Office Doubles Estimated TARP Cost To $356 Billion

In what should likely be a much more publicized piece of information, the Congressional Budget Office doubled the projected cost of the TARP bailout plan to $356 billion, versus an earlier estimate of $189 billion: an increase of $167 billion on the taxpayer's dime. According to the March CBO report, the total revised deficit under the Obama budget will hit $1.8 trillion in 2009 (and then never go negative pretty much in perpetuity, in other words deficit forever):