Now that we have entered the Post Taper world, at least until the data gets so horrendous that the Fed is forced to admit defeat and resumes Untapering, here is a cliff notes version of the “reality” narrative as spun by the media and pundits: if the data is “good” it is because of the recovery; if the data is “bad” it is due to the weather.
Which is why when retail sales are reported in a few minutes, we expect nothing less than more weather scapegoating. In fact, courtesy of Guggenheim’s Scott Minerd we can almost predict with surgical accuracy just how bad the retail sales miss will be based on the series’ correlation to average January temperatures. Because, you see, when it is snowing outside people just don’t use their computer to go to amazon.com and order negative margin loss leaders for Jeff Bezos…
The effects of December’s frigid temperatures have already been seen in recent U.S. economic data releases. With January temperatures more than three degrees colder than average, it is likely that economic activity will continue to be depressed in the first month of the year. Retail sales show a particularly strong correlation with temperatures in January, suggesting that data for January will likely show restrained growth.
Of course, on the off chance that retail sales should pull a Services ISM and surge, beating expectations, the narrative will quickly be flip-flopped to where the recovery is so strong and the $17 trillion US economy so resilient, it even managed to overcome the effect of snow in the winter.