Thursday, May 29, 2008

A look at Q1 GDP revision

The 1st revision is out: GDP in Q1 was revised up from 0.6% to 0.9%.  Jeff Frankel, member of NBER business cycle committee, talks about how he views the new revised number.
It is hard to say that we entered a recession in the first quarter, without a single negative growth quarter, let alone two of them.   Even so, three minor qualifications to that 0.9% remain: 
1)      The number will be revised again, and could move in either direction.
2)      A bit of the measured growth consisted of an increased rate of inventory investment, which was almost certainly not desired by firms and is likely to reverse in the 2nd quarter
3)      As Martin
Feldstein has pointed out, the QI growth number is defined as the change for the quarter as a whole relative to QIV of 2007;  within QI, the information currently available suggests that GDP fell from January to February to March.

The economy is a four-engine airplane flying at stall speed, skimming along the top of the waves without yet going down.   Real gross domestic purchases increased only 0.1 percent in the first quarter.   But exports provided an important source of demand for US products, and are likely to remain a positive engine of growth in the future.   The same is true of the fiscal policy engine, as consumers receive and spend their tax cuts in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.   On the other wing, the investment engine has been knocked out;  inventory investment is likely to fall and residential construction will remain negative for sometime.   The big question mark is the consumption engine.   Is the long-spending American household taking a hard look at its diminished net worth and taking steps to raise its saving rate above the very low levels of recent years?

We are already clearly in a "growth recession...


sbvor said...

With today’s 50% upward first revision to the Q1 GDP data, the likelihood of the recession you hope for is fading really, really fast.

It is probable that Q2 will show slower growth than Q1. But the best minds remain convinced Q2 will show positive GDP growth, every quarter of 2008 will show positive growth and 2009 will grow faster than that.

Once we get the final numbers for Q2 (9/26/08), we will be able to safely bury all this media hysteria in the ash pile of a very long, very sad history of media folly.

Fortunately, we’ll be able to bury the 2008 recession myth before the November election. Thus, the political ploy on the part of Dems will have backfired (big-time).

See my latest updates on this sorry media driven hysteria here:
The Recession of 2008 That Wasn’t?