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GDP, inflation and politics: This week in markets

07/29/2017

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Events are moving fast, this account timestamped mid-afternoon Friday. The economic news is excellent. The other news is not. The first estimate of second-quarter GDP arrived this morning, plus 2.6 percent annualized. Q1 was revised down from 1.4 percent to 1.2 percent. Add the two quarter results together, divide by two, and we have 1.8 percent annualized growth in the first half. Nothing wrong with that, especially if the rest of the year follows Q2 upward. And add a little Kentucky windage: There is a mountain of evidence that Q1 GDP has been under-reported in each of the last several years. Thus the economy is very close to the Fed’s 2 percent growth forecast. Inflation is still under-performing, but hardly bad news. There is no repeat of the fearful prospect of deflation in 2001-2002, or 2008-2012. Core inflation in 2016 was revised down from 1.6 percent to 1.5 percent, and is running close to that in 2017. With inflation so low, it’s impossible to expect w…

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