Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Impact of Stimulus on GDP

by Bill McBride on 12/01/2009 07:01:00 PM

The CBO released a new report today: Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output as of September 2009. Here is their estimate of the impact on GDP:

[The] CBO estimates that in the third quarter of calendar year 2009 ... real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) was 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent higher, than would have been the case in the absence of ARRA. Those ranges are intended to reflect the uncertainty of such estimates and to encompass most economists’ views on the effects of fiscal stimulus.
At both extremes of the range, the economy would still be in recession without the stimulus (note: the BEA reported that GDP grew "at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter of 2009" or about 0.7% for the quarter).

This is significant looking forward. The stimulus probably had the peak impact on GDP growth in Q3, and the positive contribution will diminish over the next few quarters. Without a pickup in end demand, the economy could slide back into recession next year.

Professor Krugman issued a Double Dip Warning today:
I’ve never been fully committed to the notion that we’re going to have a “double dip” — that the economy will slide back into recession. But it has been clear for a while that it’s a serious possibility, for two reasons. First, a large part of the growth we’ve had has been driven by the stimulus — but the stimulus has already had its maximum impact on the growth of GDP, will hit its maximum impact on the level of GDP in the middle of next year, and then will begin to fade out. Second, the rise in manufacturing production is to a large extent an inventory bounce — and this, too, will fade out in the quarters ahead.
...
I’d be more sanguine about all of this if there were any indications that private, final demand is taking off — consumers, business investment, whatever. But I haven’t seen anything suggesting that sort of thing.

The chances of a relapse into recession seem to be rising.

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