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On The Q3 GDP Upside Surprise Of 4.1%

  • Written by Syndicated Publisher No Comments Comments
    December 23, 2013

    The Third Estimate for Q3 GDP, to one decimal, was revised upward to 4.1 percent from the 3.6 percent Second Estimate. Investing.com had forecast no change at 3.6 percent. The GDP deflator used to calculate real (inflation-adjusted) GDP was unchanged at 2.0 percent. Q3 GDP of 4.1 percent is a a substantial move from the 2.5 percent of Q2 and this highest quarterly reading since the 4.9 percent of Q4 2011.

    Here is an excerpt from the Bureau of Economic Analysis news release:

    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 4.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013 (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.5 percent.

    The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued on December 5, 2103. In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 3.6 percent (see “Revisions” on page 3). With this third estimate for the third quarter, increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and in nonresidential fixed investment were larger than previously estimated.

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

    The acceleration in real GDP growth in the third quarter primarily reflected an acceleration in private inventory investment, a deceleration in imports, and accelerations in state and local government spending and in PCE that were partly offset by a deceleration in exports. [Full Release]

    Here is a look at GDP since Q2 1947 together with the real (inflation-adjusted) S&P Composite. The start date is when the BEA began reporting GDP on a quarterly basis. Prior to 1947, GDP was reported annually. To be more precise, what the lower half of the chart shows is the percent change from the preceding period in Real (inflation-adjusted) Gross Domestic Product. I’ve also included recessions, which are determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

     

     

    Here is a close-up of GDP alone with a line to illustrate the 3.3 average (arithmetic mean) for the quarterly series since the 1947, with the latest GDP revisions, this number had been at 3.3 for 14 quarters, slipped to 3.2 in Q4 of 2012, and is now back to 3.3. I’ve also plotted the 10-year moving average, currently at 1.7, down from 1.8 last quarter. The current GDP is now over double this moving average.

     

     

    Here is the same chart with a linear regression that illustrates the gradual decline in GDP over this timeframe.

     

     

    Perhaps the most telling representation of slowing growth in the US economy is the year-over-year rate of change. The latest data point at 1.97% is off its interim low of 1.32 percent in Q1.

     

     

    And for a bit of political trivia, here is a look at GDP by party in control of the White House and Congress.

     

     

    In summary, the Q3 GDP Third Estimate of 4.1 percent was better than forecast and will be seen by many as a confirmation of the Fed’s decision to begin tapering its purchases.

    Images: Flickr (licence attribution)

    About The Author

    My original dshort.com website was launched in February 2005 using a domain name based on my real name, Doug Short. I’m a formerly retired first wave boomer with a Ph.D. in English from Duke. Now my website has been acquired byAdvisor Perspectives, where I have been appointed the Vice President of Research.

    My first career was a faculty position at North Carolina State University, where I achieved the rank of Full Professor in 1983. During the early ’80s I got hooked on academic uses of microcomputers for research and instruction. In 1983, I co-directed the Sixth International Conference on Computers and the Humanities. An IBM executive who attended the conference made me a job offer I couldn’t refuse.

    Thus began my new career as a Higher Education Consultant for IBM — an ambassador for Information Technology to major universities around the country. After 12 years with Big Blue, I grew tired of the constant travel and left for a series of IT management positions in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. I concluded my IT career managing the group responsible for email and research databases at GlaxoSmithKline until my retirement in 2006.

    Contrary to what many visitors assume based on my last name, I’m not a bearish short seller. It’s true that some of my content has been a bit pessimistic in recent years. But I believe this is a result of economic realities and not a personal bias. For the record, my efforts to educate others about bear markets date from November 2007, as this Motley Fool article attests.

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