Recent strategy notes from Goldman Sachs are consistent with my overall view of the US economy – it’s stronger than the recessionistas have long thought. So the good news is things aren’t yet contracting. The bad news is the economy is still too weak to substantially bring down the rate of unemployment. And the good/bad news is that this reduces the likelihood of QE this year. More from Goldman’s Jan Hatzius (via ZH):
“The US economic recovery remains sluggish, but we believe that it will pick up a bit in coming months. Tuesday’s data were generally in line with this expectation:
1. Stronger retail sales. The July retail sales report showed a clear upside surprise, with a 0.9% gain in sales excluding autos, building materials, and gasoline. The month-to-month strength was broad-based, with sizable gains in most core categories, although it mainly served to reverse some of the declines in the prior month.
2. Slower inventory accumulation. Inventory accumulation has slowed clearly in recent months, with book-value business inventories up just 0.1% in June, down from a peak of 0.8% in January. We believe that this slowdown has been partly responsible for the disappointing performance in manufacturing surveys such as the ISM and Philly Fed. If it is ending, that should help the manufacturing sector over the next few months.
Our proprietary measures of US economic growth have also picked up a bit further. Our Q3 GDP tracking estimate rose to 2.3% from 2.2%, our current activity indicator (CAI) now stands at 1.2% in July after 1.1% in June, and our US-MAP index of US economic data surprises is moving quickly further toward neutral readings on a 60-day exponential moving average basis.”