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Friday, August 25, 2006

37 Charts – In No Particular Order

Tim Duy wants help with his homework:

37 Charts – In No Particular Order, by Tim Duy David Altig discusses the challenge macroeconomists face as they aggregate a dizzying array of economic data into a coherent story:

To put it straight, I harbor no illusions about the state of the residential housing market. But I am a macroeconomist -- and one primarily engaged in thinking about national economic monetary and fiscal policies at that -- so my tendency is to focus on the trajectory of the entire economy. In the best of times there are some sectors of the economy that struggle, and it is not clear that these are the appropriate objects of policy.

How much emphasis should we place on the housing sector?

On the surface, it directly accounts for only a tiny share of economic activity, via residential investment. And, as Altig notes, forecasters have already imbedded the housing slowdown in their models. The lesson from the tech meltdown, however, is that it can be dangerous to ignore the possibility that even a relatively small sector of the economy can have significant – and unanticipated – multiplier effects.

I currently feel the challenge of weighing the housing data against the totality of economic activity, as this is the time of year I update my forecasts. Conveniently, for the past four years, in early September, I have done a three hour presentation on the macroeconomy for a group of Portland business executives who are prone to asking probing questions.  This session helps me work out the kinks ahead of the Oregon Economic Forum a month later.

The consensus view on GDP growth for the next few quarters has pretty much edged down to my forecast of last April, which in and of itself gives me reason for pause: When everyone is telling your story, it is time to change your story. But, looking over my set of charts, do I want to join Nouriel Roubini?

I thought everyone might enjoy puzzling (further) over the forecast this weekend, so here is a collection of 37 charts that detail various pieces of the US economy. It is by no means an exhaustive list, and I have put no commentary in as of yet. Moreover, the charts are in no particular order – I print them out and arrange them into a story, then add in comments. 

What better way to spend a sunny weekend?

    Posted by on Friday, August 25, 2006 at 02:25 PM in Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (29)

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