Atlanta Fed’s Robot Gets Suddenly Skittish About the Economy

Every few days the Atlanta Fed releases an estimate of GDP growth as of that moment. It’s normally in rough agreement with the blue-chip consensus, but not always. Take today, for example:

Two weeks ago, the GDPNow forecast dropped dramatically when the retail trade report for December came out. As it happens, that led to a less accurate forecast, since GDP growth in Q4 of 2018 ended up at 2.6 percent, well above the final GDPNow forecast of 1.9 percent.

But if the GDPNow algorithm got suddenly bearish two weeks ago, it slid into the abyss today: its initial “nowcast” for the first quarter of 2019 has plummeted to 0.3 percent. This is recession territory. You can decide for yourself how seriously to take this, and maybe on Monday we’ll get a sunnier forecast. But if you’re curious about how accurate the GDPNow forecast is, here’s a quick look:

Obviously GDPNow is much more volatile than the actual quarterly estimates from the BEA, but they’re usually in the same ballpark. Sudden spikes up and down are sometimes accurate and sometimes not. On the other hand, the three previous drifts downward to near zero were all missed calls, so maybe this one will be too. Stay tuned.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate