Key economic events for the week of Aug. 29

It should be a big week for economic data, offering the strongest sense yet of whether the nation is dipping into recession.

Monday

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The Commerce Department releases data on personal income and consumption for July, a first peek at what overall growth might be in the third quarter. Forecasters are expecting a 0.4 percent gain in incomes, compared with a 0.1 percent gain in June. They also forecast a 0.5 percent rise in consumer spending, compared with a drop in June. Particularly worth paying attention to will be the inflation measure included in the release, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation. Fed officials would like to see inflation pressures soften before undertaking any further monetary easing. Economists expect prices to have risen 0.2 percent in July, up from the 0.1 percent rise in June.

Wednesday

The Federal Reserve releases minutes of its last policy meeting. At the time, the Federal Open Market Committee said it expected economic conditions to warrant ultra-low interest rates through mid-2013 and acknowledged signs of a deteriorating economic outlook. The minutes will offer useful details on the other options for monetary easing that Fed officials considered. The minutes should also offer a sense of the thinking of the three Fed officials who dissented from the August move.

Friday

The August jobs report will be a big one, answering the question of whether the palpitations in global financial markets are translating into fewer U.S. jobs. The consensus of forecasters is that U.S. employers added jobs at a tepid pace last month, hiring 80,000. That would be a step down from the 117,000 positions added in July, but would, given the fragile state of things, still offer some relief that the nation is experiencing weak growth rather than outright economic contraction. Some economists are warning that an outright decline in employment — it would be the first since early 2010 — is a distinct possibility. Analysts expect the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 9.1 percent.

Also Friday, the Institute for Supply Management plans to release its index of manufacturing activity. After a slew of disappointing regional manufacturing surveys, analysts are expecting this to show the first contraction in the sector in more than two years, a result that would deepen recession fears.

Neil’s Must Reads

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., late last week. Read thepapers presented at the conference, and take a particular look at papers on the risks of high debt levels by Stephen Cecchetti and colleagues, and one on reining in health care costs by Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra. Find links at washingtonpost.com/mustreads.

Neil’s

Must Reads

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., late last week. Read thepapers presented at the conference, and take a particular look at papers on the risks of high debt levels by Stephen Cecchetti and colleagues, and one on reining in health care costs by Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra. Find links at washingtonpost.com/mustreads.

 
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