Recession At The Gate: JPM Cuts Q4 GDP From 1.0% To 0.1%

We already noted the cycle-low Q4 GDP forecast by the Atlanta Fed, which in a release which came out just as the crashing US equity market closed revised the last quarter GDP to just 0.6%, which delay however according to the same Atlanta Fed was due to "nothing more nefarious than technical difficulties."

Curiously, JPM had no problems with the 15 second exercise of plugging in raw data into the GDP "beancount" model. And, according to chief economist Michael Feroli, in the 4th quarter, the same quarter in which Yellen finally felt confident enough to declare the US economy strong enough to withstand a rate hike and a tightening cycle, US growth ground to a halt and as a result JPMorgan just cut its Q4 GDP forecast from 1.0% to 0.1%, which would suggest in 2015 US GDP grew 2.3%, down from 2.4% in 2014.

If JPM is right, and if the US economy effectively did not grow in the fourth quarter, this would make it the worst GDP print since Q1 of 2014, and tied for the third worst quarter since 2009, which incidentally was our kneejerk assessment after yesterday's latest round of abysmal economic data.

The cherry on top: JPM also cut its Q1 2016 GDP forecast from 2.25% to 2.00%. Expect many more downward revisions to forward GDP in the coming weeks.

Below is a chart of what US GDP looks like if JPM's forecast proves to be accurate:

Here is JPM explaining why "Q4 GDP growth is still positive, but barely"

We are lowering our tracking of real annualized GDP growth in Q4 from 1.0% to 0.1%. Two reports out today contributed to this downgraded assessment. First, retail sales in December came in rather shockingly weak, which was accompanied by modest downward revisions to October and November retail sales. Second, the business inventories report for November suggest a fairly aggressive push by business to reduce the pace of stockbuilding last quarter. We now see inventories subtracting 1.2%-points from growth last quarter, offset by a disappointing but not disastrous 1.3% increase in real final sales.


We are also lowering some our outlook for Q1 GDP growth from 2.25% to 2.0%. While the inventory situation should turn to being roughly neutral for growth, the quarterly arithmetic on consumer spending got a little more challenging after this morning's retail sales figure, which implies flat real consumer spending in December. We now see real consumer spending in Q1 at 2.5%, versus 3.0% previously. We are leaving unrevised our outlook for 2.25% growth over the remaining three quarters of the year. We will discuss in a separate email the policy outlook, which in any event is currently being swayed more by the inflation data than the growth data.