Joel Naroff is a nationally recognized economic forecasting expert. He has received numerous honors, including the Lawrence Klein Award for Blue Chip forecasting excellence. He was named the Bloomberg Business News 2008 Top Economic Forecaster, and in 2007 he received the National Association of Business Economists Outlook Award as the top economic forecaster. Naroff was also the first independent economist to win the CBS Market Watch Economist of the Month Award. Joel is often quoted in both national and international press, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and Business Week. He frequently appears on CNBC, Fox Business News and Bloomberg Television, and he also does business commentary for KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia. Joel received bachelor’s degrees in economics and chemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his Ph.D. in economics from Brown University.

More Posts by Joel:

Looming “Fiscal Cliff” Continues to Fuel Economic Uncertainty

One month, the numbers tell us that economic conditions are softening, the next month we discover the economy is on the rise.  It almost sounds like a political debate where the views of reality are so different it is hard to tell what direction the economy is going.  The issue is not what an individual number may indicate but what is the trend over time.  While growth is hardly strong, it is holding up despite the problems created by Washington’s refusal to deal with the looming “fiscal cliff.” As is usually the case, the employment report was the center of attention and boy did it deliver.  The unemployment rate gapped down in September to 7.8%.  This was the lowest rate since January 2009, the month Mr. Obama was inaugurated.  And that immediately raised the question: Was the number politically manipulated?  Very simply, the answer is no, no and once again, no. There was no conspiracy unless you believe the moon landing was faked or aliens crashed in Roswell, NM.  I know of no professional economist who thinks the data are politically biased.  They may not be what they think they should be, but not because there is political interference in the data creation process. Continue Reading »

Competing Forces Put the Economy in a Delicate Balance

The conventions are over but they didn’t clarify much.  President Obama argues that the economy is recovering and he is the best person to complete the job while Mr. Romney says he has the best plan to create jobs.  Exactly what either will do is a real question as   Continue Reading »

Roadblocks Continue to Stand in the Way of Economic Growth

The economy continues to expand and that it does is an amazing feat in itself.  OK, growth did slow in the spring but the pace was a bit faster than expected.  Whether conditions will stabilize or even improve or whether we are headed downward, though, remains uncertain. The roadblocks are daunting: the willingness to say anything but do nothing in Washington is sapping the confidence of business leaders and households alike; European financial leaders are also willing to claim they will do something big but as of yet the policies have not been specified; and Asia is slowing no matter what the Chinese “data” say.  We need to muddle through until early next year when hopefully some of the uncertainties will begin clearing up. Continue Reading »

Missing Link for Economic Recovery? Confidence

Franklin Roosevelt became president during one of the worst economic times in the history of the nation.  While he knew that the fundamentals of the economy were terrible, he felt it necessary to focus on something that was more emotional in nature: fear.  His famous statement, “let   Continue Reading »

Instability in Europe Hampers Economy at Home

It’s hard to move forward when the headwinds are blowing strongly.  We have an election that is causing uncertainty about what shape policy will take next year.  There is a January 1st fiscal cliff where huge spending cuts and tax increases are slated to automatically take place that is also hurting confidence.  And then there is Europe, which is trying to keep things together even as Spain joined Greece in the ranks of those needing bailouts.  None of these factors are helping move things ahead. Continue Reading »

Modest Economic Pause Raises Minor Questions about the Recovery

The warm winter has given way to even more pleasant days.  The summer is coming quickly and while the weather outside may be delightful, some disconcerting issues have arisen about the economy.  After last year’s summer of discontent and economic malaise, recent weaker-than-hoped-for economic reports have raised the possibility that winter recovery was just a head fake.  My belief, though, is that better days lie ahead. The situation in the labor markets, which had been clearly improving, suddenly became oddly confusing.  Unemployment claims, which had been falling, took a turn for the worse.  That was a warning that the April employment report could be a downer, and it was.  Only 115,000 new positions were added to the payrolls.  Continued sharp government spending cutbacks, especially for education, curtailed somewhat better private sector hiring.  Continue Reading »

Despite Some Questionable Reports, the Economy is Still in Good Shape

The economic data were great for months.  And then came March. A string of less than stellar reports raised questions about the state of the economy. In particular, job growth slumped and housing starts cratered. But not all the data were bad, especially given that consumers are spending. Simply put, the economic numbers bounce around and we should not get too worked up over a few questionable reports. For better or worse, it is still all about the labor market. From December through February, the private sector added nearly 250,000 employees per month. That was well above expectations but not sustainable in an economy growing only moderately. The payback occurred in March when businesses hired a mere 121,000 workers. So, should we be worried? Continue Reading »

High Oil Prices or Not, the Economy Is Proceeding Full Speed Ahead!

In 2008 and in 2011, high oil prices led to consumers losing hope and cutting back spending.  While gasoline above $4.00 by itself did not crater the economy, it did play a major role in its slowdown.  At least for now, the recovery remains on track and consumers seem to be dealing with the raid on their wallets fairly well.  Once we get the expected pull back in prices, business activity should accelerate. Continue Reading »

The Economy is Starting to Shift Gears, But Issues Remain

In my outlook for 2012, I ended by saying that “2012 should be quite a bit better than 2011.” Well, we are already seeing signs that the improvement is already under way. Job growth has picked up sharply, the unemployment rate is coming down, confidence is improving and manufacturers are picking up the pace. The momentum we saw at the end of 2011 has carried into the early part of this year. Continue Reading »

Signs Point to Stronger Economy in 2012

What an amazing year. It started out positively as businesses were hiring again, confidence increased and growth seemed poised to change gears. But then gasoline prices broke the critical $4.00 a gallon level and consumers got worried. There was also a divisive debate over the debt ceiling, a downgrade of the U.S. debt, huge market volatility, a devastating tsunami which cut the Japanese supply chain and the European sovereign debt crises. When you come to think about it, the continued growth of the U.S. economy is amazing and shows just how resilient it is. Continue Reading »

Economic Recovery Still Challenged by European Concerns and Energy Prices

Consumers and businesses keep telling us conditions are bad. But the recent economic data have been surprisingly solid, pointing to an accelerating recovery. Unfortunately, the economy has had nothing but bad luck and the problems facing Europe and rising energy costs are two more hurdles that must be cleared before solid growth returns. The economy is expanding and the pace of economic activity quickened during the summer. Third quarter GDP growth of 2.5% is hardly gangbusters but the details of the report were better than the headline. Consumers are spending again with big-ticket purchases leading the way. But more importantly, services demand has come back. This lagging component is nearly two-thirds of all spending and a turnaround here would be welcome news. With October retail sales being even better than expected, it looks like the holiday shopping season has gotten off to a strong start as well. Continue Reading »

Reports of the Economy’s Demise Appear Premature

After the bizarre August events, investors, commentators, politicians and not a few economists became convinced the economy was headed directly into a double-dip recession.  Well, the path from growth to decline is not as clear as many thought.  Job growth is improving, manufacturing is expanding and consumers are actually buying big-ticket as well as lower-priced items.  No, the economy is not shifting into high gear, but it hardly looks like a recession is inevitable. Continue Reading »

The Key to Economic Recovery? Overcoming Fear

Maybe fear is not the only thing we have to fear, but it is the key problem facing the economy. The drum beat of negative economic news is dominating the information networks:  The economy isn’t creating any new jobs.  Inflation is picking up.  The government isn’t able to find a solution.  The stock market is an out-of-control roller coaster.  What is an average person to do?  Well, it looks like hunkering down is back - and that is the biggest threat to the recovery. Continue Reading »

U.S. Debt Downgraded - But Was That The Real Story?

What a month. Congress decided that it really did have to raise the debt ceiling, a rating agency decided there actually was some risk the U.S. could default on its debt, the government decided that the Great Recession was even worse than originally thought and the recovery was even weaker, and the Fed decided that the economy was going to be so weak that rates had to be kept low until mid-2013. Wow! Yes, that was the month that was. Continue Reading »

2011 Economic Recovery: A Slow-Moving Roller Coaster?

So far this year the economy has been on quite the roller coaster ride.  After a slow start, the job market heated up and by April, conditions were looking a lot better.  But then gasoline prices surged and consumers began pumping extra spending money into their gas tanks.  Add to that the continued weakness in housing, limited credit availability, the financial crises in Europe and the debt-ceiling debate in Washington and it should surprise no one that consumer spending faded and business leaders assumed a wait-and-see attitude. Continue Reading »

Summer's Economic "Soft Spot"

Summertime and the living is still not easy. Job growth has stumbled, consumer confidence has faded, and business expectations have eased. Clearly, the economy has hit a soft spot. Does that mean a double-dip recession is possible? Right now, that does not look likely.  Instead, if gasoline prices keep going down, we could see a rebound by the end of the summer. Continue Reading »

Oil Price Declines Should Boost Economic Growth This Summer

Bubbles inflate. Bubbles burst. When the last major bubble – housing – exploded, it crashed the financial sector and ultimately the economy. This time, the piercing of the oil balloon should remove one of the major hurdles to stronger economic growth. If money that consumers were being forced to spend on gas returns to their pockets, it may be just the tonic that cures the sluggish recovery ills and allows activity to really accelerate. Continue Reading »

Economic Recovery Is On Course, Despite Spiking Gasoline Prices

If you have filled up recently you know full well the pain we are all feeling from the surge in oil and gasoline prices. Pumping all that money into our gas tanks instead of having it available to buy the things we really want is a major problem for the economy. But, coming into April, the economic upturn was gaining momentum. We should weather this storm, though the return to stronger growth may be delayed. Continue Reading »

New Challenges Threaten to Slow Economic Recovery, Not Derail It

This post is part of a series by Joel Naroff, an economist who serves as an advisor to Susquehanna.   The recovery had been tooling along at a slow but steady pace. Consumers were spending their tax cuts, businesses were hiring and investing and it looked as if the economy was ready to shift gears from recovery into expansion. Then the world and its inter-connected economy were rocked by political instability in some oil-producing nations and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In addition to the devastating toll these disasters have taken on human life and local communities, there will be a global economic toll as well. Continue Reading »

Economic Recovery Rolling (Gradually) Along: January Data Shows Factory Orders Up, Unemployment Down

This post is part of a series by Joel Naroff, an economist who serves as an advisor to Susquehanna. The first reading on economic activity in 2011 was a promising one, showing that the manufacturing sector is really beginning to heat up. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose solidly, driven by a surge in new orders. This was followed by another update report from the Institute, this one based on a survey of managers in non-manufacturing businesses. This showed that the service sector of the economy is growing solidly as well. Demand rose sharply as the new orders index hit its highest level since August 2003. Other reports also reinforce the view of a gradually building economic recovery. Despite the lousy weather - or maybe because of it - major retailers reported solid sales gains for January. Continue Reading »

Employment Data Indicates Businesses Still Cautious in Hiring

This is the second in a series of blog entries by Joel Naroff, an economist who serves as an advisor for Susquehanna Bank: In the wake of November’s economic data, we got all dressed up, but then found out there was no coming-out ball to go to. The questionably soft November jobs report - coupled with the surprisingly robust ADP National Employment Report® data - seemed to point to a strong gain in payrolls in December. Alas, that did not happen. Instead we got another modest increase in jobs. Continue Reading »

"Race" to Recovery: Economic Growth Is a Tortoise, Not a Hare

This is the first in a series of blog entries by Joel Naroff, an economist who serves as an advisor for Susquehanna Bank. Just when it seemed safe to believe the labor market was firming and job growth was coming back, we were reminded that this recovery is proceeding with fits and starts. Job growth in November was extremely disappointing. The recovery continues onward, but this jobs report seems to say that it hasn’t shifted gears just yet. Continue Reading »