Friday, September 12, 2014

UCLA Anderson Forecast, September 2014

Executive Summary

Growth Ramping to a 3% Economy from a 2% Economy

After declining by 2.1% in first quarter and growing at 4.2% in the second quarter we forecast that real GDP growth will now run at about a 3% over the next few years. Specifically we are forecast growth of 3.2% in the current quarter and 2.9% in the fourth quarter. On annual basis GDP growth will rebound from 2014’s 2.1% to 3.1% and 3.4% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Payroll job growth should average 230,000/month and by the end of 2016 the unemployment rate will drop to 5.3%.

Instead of Contracting Defense Spending will be on the Rise

In a major change from prior forecasts, we now anticipate that defense spending will increase rather than decline. The rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq along with the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine will cause a rethinking of the U.S.’s defense posture. We have modeled in an additional $24 billion in defense spending by 2016. For those with a long memory we would note that the Reagan defense build-up started under President Carter in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Inflation on the Rise

As we discussed in prior forecast we believe that inflation as measured by the headline and core consumer price indices at 2% or higher over the next two years. The main drivers of the inflation will come from rising residential rents and increasing healthcare costs. Thus the core CPI will be rising by about a ½% higher than the overall index.

Fed to Raise Rates in March 2015

In response to declining unemployment and rising inflation we forecast that the Fed will increase interest rates at its March 2015 meeting. Thereafter we expect a gradual increase in the Federal Funds rate to about 3% by the end of 2016.

Growth Leaders to be Housing, Nonresidential Construction and Investment in Equipment and Software

Despite the housing recovery being slower than we anticipated we forecast that housing starts will rise from this year’s estimated 1.025 million units to 1.32 million and 1.47 million units in 2015 and 2016 respectively.  Because of continuing investment in energy production and a revival in commercial construction, non-residential construction will start to increase rapidly in mid-2015. In 2016 investment in nonresidential construction is forecast to expand at a robust 8.2%. Continued strength in equipment and software spending will continue to buoy the economy.

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