Nothing surprises us anymore | FT Alphaville

Nothing surprises us anymore

A h/t to Mark Dow for the spot. That’s Citi’s US Economic Surprise Index threatening to turn negative after a decent run in positive territory.

Mark said on his blog:

Remember, a positive reading of the Index suggests that economic releases have been, on balance, beating consensus. So a lower positive number means less positive surprise. It doesn’t mean negative surprise until it crosses zero.

We’re approaching zero pretty fast.

We would like to note though that the index is based solely on macro data and has a natural pull towards zero… so while the above obviously reflects recent poor data from the US, it’s still a relatively sunny picture and analysts are hoping for better to come.

From Deutsche’s Alan Ruskin on the worse-than-expected US trade gap, for example (our emphasis):

Much worse than expected Nov US trade data in the main because of a fairly broad-based surge in imports m/m. Largest gains were in consumer imports up sharply after the prior month, that hints at some quick post hurricane rebound, pre-Xmas, restocking rebound from weak data the previous month. Exports were up only moderately after a very weak Oct, suggesting production and therefore export capabilities may have been more impacted than imports post the hurricane. This story is not about the petroleum balance that was broadly steady. In all likelihood this is not the start of any meaningful deterioration in trend, and Dec- Jan will probably show a sharp improvement. The data obviously works with the mkt grain, where EUR has cracked key levels and looks destined for 1.3380 area last seen in early April.

But what if he’s wrong, you ask? What if the data comes in below what he and others expect? Well, then that was a bit circular and pointless, wasn’t it?