There is in interesting dichotomy currently occurring within the economy. While consumer confidence, as reported by the Census Bureau, soared to some of the highest levels seen since the turn of the century, the hard economic data continues to remain quite weak. As noted by Morgan Stanley just recently:
“Compare the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s current 1Q GDP tracking vs ours – FRBNY is currently tracking 1Q GDP at 3.0% versus us around 1%. The difference is larger than usual and is being driven by the fact that the New York Fed incorporates soft data into its tracking (attempting to tie it econometrically to GDP, a very hard thing to do especially in real-time). Our method translates the incoming hard data into its GDP equivalent. Note that the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow tracking also focuses on hard data and is currently tracking 1% for 1Q GDP.”
The stunning divergence can be seen in the chart attached to that same article which shows the difference between the “hard” and “soft” data specifically.
What is currently expected by those with a more “bullish bias” is the hard data will soon play catch up with the soft data. Importantly, as I discussed in “Fade To Black”, this is the basis of the markets continued optimism that tax reforms, repatriations and infrastructure spending create the “reflationary” dynamics necessary to spur economic growth of 3-4%.
However, there may be a problem.