Wall Street Economists Are Really Cranking Up Their GDP Forecasts

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U.S. economic data has been coming in surprisingly strong.

And last Friday’s better-than-expected income and consumer spending data has prompted many Wall Street economists to revise up their Q1 GDP forecasts.

While some have yet to raise their official GDP targets, many have reflected the revisions in their tracking estimates, a number that gets updated continuously with each new input to GDP.

This is surprising as many expected the post-financial crisis era of below trend growth to extend for many years.

Here are some of the new forecasts:

Deutsche Bank: +3.0 per cent

While Deutsche Bank’s Joe Lavorgna expects 3 per cent growth, he says better than expected real consumption data (one percentage point above DB’s forecast) and strong construction spending could send Q1 GDP up 3.7 per cent. In a tweet last week, LaVorgna said Q1 GDP could rise as much as 4 per cent.

While sequestration has hurt public spending, the private sector is improving. But “because some of the increase in consumption could show up in imports,” he’s sticking with his 3 per cent call for now.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch: +3.0 per cent

BAML analysts are tracking Q1 GDP growth of 3.4 per cent after stronger retail sales, inventories, and consumer spending.

JP Morgan: +3.8 per cent (tracking estimate)

“The latest round of data, particularly the February personal spending numbers released last Friday, suggest the economy grew quite briskly in the quarter just ended. By our estimation Q1 GDP growth now looks to be tracking around 3.8%, which would make it the third fastest quarter in the current expansion which began in mid-2009.

There is still a decent amount of Q1 data to be released before the first look at GDP at the end of April, but barring some fluke we believe the quarter’s growth will almost certainly print decently above-trend.”

Macroeconomic Advisors: +3.6 per cent (tracking estimate)

GDP forecast chart

Goldman Sachs: +3.4 per cent (tracking estimate)

There’s been a significant improvement in growth since the fourth quarter, but recently ISM manufacturing index fell to 51.3 and construction spending rose 1.2 per cent, only partly “retracing February’s 2.1 per cent decline.”

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