US GDP fails in the past, present and futures

As if Friday wasn’t going to be messy enough, advance second quarter US GDP results have disappointed on the downside.

The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 1.3 per cent in the last quarter, less than consensus expectations of 1.8 per cent. Even more startling were the revisions to previous estimates. Annualised Q1 GDP growth was amended to 0.4 per cent from 1.9 per cent — a whopping 1.5 per cent.

And in case that wasn’t bad enough, the great recession was even greater than first thought: data suggests that output contracted by a cumulative 5.1 per cent from 2007 and 2009, rather than the 4.1 per cent previously assumed.

Full release below, note the usual caveats associated with advance results:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2011, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by theBureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.4 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3). The “second” estimate for the second quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on August 26, 2011.

The estimates released today reflect the annual revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs). In addition to the regular revision of estimates for the most recent 3 years and the first quarter of 2011, current-dollar GDP and some components are revised back to the first quarter of 2003. In cases for which the estimates for the reference year (2005) are revised, this results in revisions to the levels of the related index numbers and chained-dollar estimates for the entire historical period; revisions to percent changes before the first quarter of 2003 are small. Annual revisions, which are usually released in July, incorporate source data that are more complete, more detailed, and otherwise more reliable than those previously available. This release includes the revised quarterly estimates of GDP, corporate profits, and personal income and provides an overview of the results of the revision.

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from exports, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and federal government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected a deceleration in imports, an upturn in federal government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by a sharp deceleration in personal consumption expenditures.

Final sales of computers added 0.15 percentage point to the second-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.08 percentage point to the first-quarter change. Motor vehicle output subtracted 0.12 percentage point from the second-quarter change in real GDP after adding 1.08 percentage points to the first-quarter change.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 3.2 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 4.0 percent in the first. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.6 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.4 percent in the first.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.1 percent in the first. Durable goods decreased 4.4 percent, in contrast to an increase of 11.7 percent. Nondurable goods increased 0.1 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent. Services increased 0.8 percent, the same increase as in the first.

Real nonresidential fixed investment increased 6.3 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.1 percent in the first. Nonresidential structures increased 8.1 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 14.3 percent. Equipment and software increased 5.7 percent, compared with an increase of 8.7 percent. Real residential fixed investment increased 3.8 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 2.4 percent.

Real exports of goods and services increased 6.0 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 7.9 percent in the first. Real imports of goods and services increased 1.3 percent, compared with an increase of 8.3 percent.

Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 2.2 percent in the second quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 9.4 percent in the first. National defense increased 7.3 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 12.6 percent. Nondefense decreased 7.3 percent, compared with a decrease of 2.7 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 3.4 percent, the same decrease as in the first.

The change in real private inventories added 0.18 percentage point to the second-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.32 percentage point to the first-quarter change. Private businesses increased inventories $49.6 billion in the second quarter, following increases of $49.1 billion in the first quarter and $38.3 billion in the fourth.

Real final sales of domestic product — GDP less change in private inventories — increased 1.1 percent in the second quarter, after increasing less than 0.1 percent.

Perhaps this will jolt lawmakers into getting their pony on. S&P and Nasdaq futures fell on the news, while — of course — yields fell on 10-year US Treasuries. Brent crude futures were down. The US dollar was at a four-month low against the Japanese yen. Over to you, Washington. And at pixel time Rick Santelli was screaming “the horror, the horror” “the yields, the yields” on CNBC, which we assume is code for “check out US Markets Live at 10am, New York time.”

Related link:
US real GDP was 1.8% in Q1 – FT Alphaville

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