Charts of the Day: The Fed's Grim New Economic Projections

What the Federal Open Market Committee's November statement lacked in newsworthiness, its new economic projections made up for. Until today, it hadn't released any specific expectations for GDP, unemployment, and inflation since June. After that time, we learned that first half growth was much weaker than anticipated, so the Fed's projections released in this afternoon were noticeably weaker.

Here's the chart for the range of the Fed's GDP projections in November versus June:

Fed GDP proj 2011-11.png

You can see that the orange dots for 2011 are now much lower than the green dots were in June. Even the most optimistic committee members now think growth will be below 2%, from 3% in June. But those optimists also lowered their projections for the next few years from 4 in 2012 and 4.5% to 3.5% and 4%, respectively.

The news isn't much better for unemployment:

Fed unemp proj 2011-11.png

You can see that the low bound is now much higher than it was in June, through 2013. Even the most optimistic see unemployment above 8% for all of next year and above 7.5% through 2013.

The smallest revisions came in the Fed's inflation projections:

Fed inflat proj 2011-11.png

Here, we're essentially just seeing the low bound creep up a bit through 2013.

For GDP and unemployment, these projections have shifted significantly in just five months. This begins to show why the Fed was eager to take action to boost the economy in August and September: the recovery appeared to have gone off course. Although the Fed took no additional action in November, we could see additional stimulus in coming months if its outlook continues to slip.