Friday, January 29, 2010

Quicker growth? first estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth released

Catherine Rampell reports based on a BEA release that in the 4th quarter real Gross Domestic Product (sometimes referred to as 'the economy') grew at an annual rate* of 5.7%. Since this is a first estimate, Rampell rightly points out that the first estimate for 3rd quarter annual growth rate was 3.7%, which has since been revised downward to 2.2%. Less encouraging still is the fact that more than half of the reported growth is increase in inventories, meaning businesses didn't sell as much stuff as they were planning to, or are building up inventories in expectations of a return to higher consumer spending. But the latter added only 1.44% to the overall growth rate, half a percent off from its 3rd quarter showing. Given the continuing job losses last quarter, inventory increases coupled with a consumer spending slow down looks to me like a bad situation for employment in the near future.

* Annual growth rate here means that if the economy grew as fast as it did in the 4th quarter all year, the economy would grow by 5.7%.
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