Market Mover Friday: First read of 4Q GDP…

Update: CalculatedRisk has the economic chops to be believed when they give the analysis that MiM does (we do it with no economic degree just Main St instincts), so here it is:

Any analysis of the Q4 GDP report has to start with the change in private inventories. This change contributed a majority of the increase in GDP, and annualized Q4 GDP growth would have been 2.3% without the transitory increase from inventory changes.

Unfortunately – although expected – the two leading sectors, residential investment (RI) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE), both slowed in Q4.

  • PCE slowed from 2.8% annualized growth in Q3 to 2.0% in Q4.
  • RI slowed from 18.9% in Q3 to just 5.7% in Q4
  • …The transitory boost from inventory changes is frequently a great kick start to the economy at the beginning of a recovery – as long as the leading sectors (PCE and RI) are also picking up. This report has to be viewed as concerning … and is reminiscent of Q1 1981 and Q1 2002 … both examples of inventory changes making large contributions to GDP, but underlying growth remained weak.

    Update: Comes in at 5.7%. Yowsa, double dip baby….no way they maintain….

    Should be a nice reading with the sugar high provided by government spending inventory build! Govt spending in this GDP went down, kewlin’. . Update 2: Well Christy Romer wants to give the stimulus credit, so the govt contribution to this GDP data is big in her definition:

    CEA chair Christie Romer blogs on the latest economic data:

    This broad-based rise in GDP was surely fueled in part by the tax cuts and investment spending in the Recovery Act and other rescue actions, but some appears to be the result of private sector demand returning.

    Ironically the higher it is, the more likely IMO the double dip comes sooner. That rate of ‘growth’ cannot possibly be sustained. Team Obama no doubt hopes the 1 million temporary census jobs coming on board combined with this goosed up juiced up GDP reading will make everyone feel good.

    GDP data is not enough to create consumer spending. Neither are the temporary 1 million $18.00 an hour Census jobs (although we should get a nifty bump). We need sustained private sector job creation and in this ‘anything can happen’ Obama political environment we will not get that. Mid term electiomns cannot come soon enough,. Once we preclude the possibility of passage of regressive economic policy the economy can get back to growing….

    CNBC:

    …A Reuters survey predicted that gross domestic product, which measures total goods and services output within U.S. borders, expanded at a 4.6 percent annual rate, up from 2.2 percent in the third quarter.

    Analysts reckon the change in inventories could constitute as much as three-quarters of the GDP figure and overstate the strength of the recovery from the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression 70 years ago.

    “We shouldn’t dismiss it (GDP number), but the problem is the inventory cycle really doesn’t last that long. It’s not what we call self-sustaining growth,” said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto….

    Inventory builds are nice but they generally happen when business expects consumers to you know, buy things. What this number represents is similar to the 400k in lost jobs we are seeing in the weekly data. It is ‘less awful’ than earlier readings, IMO b/c there are hardly any workers left to fire, and not much more productivity to be squeezed out of businesses at this point. Shelves are empty so some inventory build is expected. (UPDATE: Inventory Build was 3.5% of this GDP number) Again not meaningful without the consumer engine, for that we need JOBS.

    …Consumer spending is expected to have risen in the last three months of 2009, but below the 2.8 percent annual pace in the prior quarter, when consumption got a boost from the government’s “cash for clunkers” program.

    Spending has been hamstrung by the worst labor market in a quarter century. Analysts noted that during periods of strong economic growth, consumer spending was rising at an average of 4 percent a year.

    “If you are looking for a strong and sustainable recovery, it’s hard to see that happening unless consumption accelerates,” said Capital Economics’ Ashworth….

    January 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Comedy, Economy, Finance, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture, Taxes, Unemployment Statistics, Wall St.

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