David Lykken: How much does the weather really affect the economy?

by MPA21 May 2014
By David Lykken
Special to MPA

This past winter was one of the coldest and most miserable ones on record. It seems like everyone I know is still talking about how long the winter seemed to last and how comforting it is that spring is finally here.
For GDP growth, Quarter 1 came in this year at a really big disappointment--an entire percentage point off from expectations. Many people point to the harsh winter and assume that it is to blame for the poor growth. How much truth is there to that?
I recently got a chance to sit down and talk to the MBA's new chief economist, Michael Fratantoni. Apparently, the news isn't quite as bad as we might think. While overall GDP only came in at 0.1%, the most important indicator--consumer spending--was still climbing at rate of 3% annually. The real culprit, Fratantoni says, was net imports and exports--and he expects those to reverse going into the rest of the year.
The bottom line: weather doesn't really keep us from shopping as much as we think it does. Sure, we slow down a bit when it colds cold. Maybe we don't get out and about quite as much. But, in the end, we're still spending money. If we have more long winters like this last one on the horizon, that is certainly good news for lenders. Mother Nature, it seems, can't rival the determination of the consumer.
David Lykken is 40-year industry veteran who has been an owner operator of three mortgage banking companies and a software company. As co-founder and Managing Partner of Mortgage Banking Solutions, David consults on virtually all aspects of mortgage banking with special emphasis executive leadership development, corporate strategic direction and implementation as well as mergers & acquisitions. A regular contributor on CNBC and Fox Business News, David also hosts a successful weekly radio program called “Lykken On Lending” (www.LykkenOnLending.com) that is heard each Monday at noon (Central Standard Time) by thousands of mortgage professionals. Recently he started producing a 1-minute video called “Today’s Mortgage Minute” that appears on hundreds of television, radio and newspaper websites daily across America.


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