Friday, February 27, 2009

Investment Contributions to GDP

by Bill McBride on 2/27/2009 02:00:00 PM

The following graph shows the contribution to GDP from residential investment, equipment and software, and nonresidential structures. The graph shows the rolling 4 quarters for each investment category.

This is important to follow because residential tends to lead the economy, equipment and software is generally coincident, and nonresidential structure investment trails the economy.

Investment Contributions Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Residential investment (red) has been a huge drag on the economy for the last couple of years. The good news is the drag is getting smaller, and the drag on GDP will be significantly less in 2009, than in 2007 and 2008.

Even if there is no rebound in residential investment later this year, the drag will be less because there isn't much residential investment left! The bad news is any rebound in residential investment will probably be small because of the huge overhang of existing inventory.

The REALLY bad news is nonresidential investment (blue) is about to fall off a cliff. Nonresidential investment subtracted -0.24% (SAAR) from GDP in Q4, and will decline sharply in 2009 based on the Fed's Senior Loan Officer Survey, the Architecture Billings Index, and many many other reports and stories. In previous downturns the economy recovered long before nonresidential investment - and that will probably be true again this time.

As always, residential investment is the investment area to follow - it is the best predictor of future economic activity.