The Congregational Budget Office (CBO) is out with its annual report. It’s a blockbuster. This 165 page monster is filled with dozens of charts, graphs and detailed projections. It will be talked about for weeks. The report provides a dismal outlook for the economy. There is one data point I’d like to focus on.
Here is the CBO forecast for real GDP for 2012 and 2013:
The 1.1% Real GDP number for 2013 surprised me. The CBO’s expectations are way under those of both the “Blue Chip” economists and the Federal Reserve:
What does it mean if the economy is going to slow, as CBO now thinks? Some consequences:
The CBO now forecasts Social Security to run into trouble in just a few years. This is a very substantial change in the outlook for SS. Changed fortunes make it a certain that America’s favourite entitlement program will be on the table for a significant re-vamp.
The CBO has answered two critical questions:
1) In what year does SS first goes into deficit (including interest)?
2) What is the size of the SS Trust Fund when #1 has been achieved?
Key data is here:
Using this information, we can estimate the Trust Funds (TF) balances over time, and compare them to what SS forecast in its report to Congress 10-months ago:
SSTF’s “Intermediate” (Base) case:
The bottom line is that the SSTF is going to top out three years ahead of “schedule” and be $800B shy of what it was “supposed” to be.
I think the CBO report has created a big headache for a good number of folks in D.C. Most of them are running for office this year. They certainly won’t be able to wave the CBO report as a measure of how well they are doing.