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GDP Output Gap

Mar 07 2023

CBO: The Ministry Of Misinformation?

  • Mar 7, 2023

After failing to publish an estimate for the GDP Output Gap for nine months, the Congressional Budget Office has just decreed that the economy has yet to reach its full-employment potential!

Apr 07 2022

“Gapping” Lower?

  • Apr 7, 2022

NIPA’s “all-economy” profit margin declined a bit in Q4—which typically peaks before SPX profits—and that falloff coincided with the economy officially reaching full employment, based on the CBO’s Nominal GDP Output Gap. When the Output Gap has flipped positive (like in Q4), corporate profit margins usually come under immediate pressure.

Mar 05 2022

Inflation: More Lighter Fluid!

  • Mar 5, 2022

For months, we’ve argued there are two ways of thinking about the current economic cycle. Economist types are likely to side with their brethren at the NBER, who say the recovery has entered its 23rd month. But those observing the broad range of economic and financial gauges might view this cycle as a  single economic expansion dating back to mid-2009.

Mar 05 2022

Zigs And “Zags”

  • Mar 5, 2022

Like Gonzaga in the NCAA basketball tournament, stock market bulls are set for their first real test in a very long time.

Dec 07 2021

Is Powell A “Phillips Curve” Guy?

  • Dec 7, 2021

With consumer price inflation raging at 6.2% and few indications of an imminent rollover, Jay Powell has waved the white flag and retired the ill-begotten “transitory” descriptor. The timing of Powell’s concession is intriguing—perhaps he’s a fellow follower of a simple inflation model: the Output Gap.

Dec 07 2021

Full Employment Brings Margin Risks

  • Dec 7, 2021

How high can corporate profit margins go? The third quarter saw a new record of 11.0% in NIPA “all economy” after-tax margins, and figures for the S&P 500, due out in a few weeks, will also set a record.

Jun 05 2021

Time To Start Thinking About “Thinking About…”

  • Jun 5, 2021

The COVID collapse showed the Fed could abandon its clunky forward guidance and make the appropriate “pivot” when the facts changed. Now that facts have changed for the better, the Fed is right back to the rigid and dogmatic approach that characterized Fed-speak for almost all of the last economic expansion.

Jan 08 2020

Are Earnings Set To “Gap” Higher?

  • Jan 8, 2020

We are troubled that the bullish optimism has spilled over into the 2020 estimates for S&P 500 earnings. Zero growth in 2020 is probably not a bad guess for NIPA figures, but S&P numbers don’t always follow suit.

Jul 05 2019

Recession Evidence: How Much Is Enough?

  • Jul 5, 2019

Over a 12-month horizon, we now believe a U.S. recession is very likely, but aren’t confident enough to make the call when the forecast window is cut in half. Second-half stock returns could be decent if the business-cycle peak is still a year away. Then again, there’s peril in waiting for “too much” confirmation of recession.

Jun 07 2019

Allocation Implications Of Full Employment

  • Jun 7, 2019

While the economy’s move above its full-employment level carries reliably negative implications for profit margins, the impact on equity returns has varied greatly from cycle to cycle.

Jun 07 2019

Profits Have Peaked

  • Jun 7, 2019

With the S&P 500 EPS count steadily shrinking and managers getting ever more creative with “adjusted EPS,” corporate profits measured with standardized accounting rules merit a closer look.

May 31 2019

An Economy This Healthy Is Hostile To Profits

  • May 31, 2019

It’s hard to grow profits when an economy’s resources are already fully employed, a fact we highlighted when the U.S. Output Gap turned positive several quarters ago. Therefore, the first quarter drop in NIPA corporate profits, reported yesterday, shouldn’t have come as a surprise.


Apr 12 2019

Margins Prove Capitalism Still Works

  • Apr 12, 2019

Corporate profits were outstanding last year, but even the benefit of a 40% cut in the top income-tax rate wasn’t enough to lift the net profit margin back to the all-time high of 10.6% established in early 2012. Still, the latest 10.0% figure is more than a percentage point above the 2007 cycle high and about two points better than any other cycle high.


May 05 2018

The Gap Is Back!

  • May 5, 2018

We celebrated the official closure of the GDP Output Gap in December, but that milestone was revised away in April by the statisticians at the CBO through a downward adjustment to the estimated rate of “full employment.”

Dec 07 2017

The “Gap” Is Gone. Now What?

  • Dec 7, 2017

In Q3, the CBO’s Nominal Output Gap swung to positive for the first time since the last business cycle peak. This type of move has historically meant the cyclical peak in profit margins is close at hand.