Saturday, May 01, 2010

Investment Contributions to GDP: Leading and Lagging Sectors

by Bill McBride on 5/01/2010 03:57:00 PM

By request, the following graph is an update to: The Investment Slump in Q2 2009

The following graph shows the rolling 4 quarter contribution to GDP from residential investment, equipment and software, and nonresidential structures. This is important to follow because residential investment tends to lead the economy, equipment and software is generally coincident, and nonresidential structure investment trails the economy.

For the following graph, red is residential, green is equipment and software, and blue is investment in non-residential structures. The usual pattern - both into and out of recessions is - red, green, blue.

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

Residential Investment (RI) made a small positive contribution to GDP in the second half of 2009, but was a drag in Q1 2010. The rolling four quarter change is moving up, but as expected there has been no strong boost to GDP from RI.

Equipment and software investment has made a positive contribution to GDP for three straight quarters (it is coincident).

Nonresidential investment in structures continues to be a drag on the economy, and as usual the economy is recovering long before nonresidential investment in structures recovers.

The key leading sector - residential investment - is lagging the recovery because of the huge overhang of existing inventory. Usually RI is a strong contributor to GDP growth and employment in the early stages of a recovery, but not this time - and this is a key reason why the recovery has been sluggish so far.