Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Manufacturing and Trade Inventory-to-Sales Ratio

by Bill McBride on 7/14/2010 10:00:00 AM

The Manufacturing and Trade Inventories and Sales report from the Census Bureau today showed that the inventory adjustment is over:

Inventories. Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,355.7 billion, up 0.1 percent (±0.1%)* from April 2010, but down 1.5 percent (±0.3%) from May 2009.

Inventories/Sales Ratio. The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of May was 1.24. The May 2009 ratio was 1.41.
Inventory Correction Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the inventory to sales ratio. This increased slightly in May to 1.24 (SA), after declining sharply from the peak of 1.48 back in Jan 2009. This could decline further - the trend is definitely down over time - but clearly the inventory adjustment is over.

This is important because the change in inventory added significantly to Q4 GDP growth and some to Q1 GDP. See BEA line 13: the contribution to GDP in Q4 2009 from 'Change in private inventories' was 3.79 of the 5.9 percent annualized increase in Q4 GDP. In Q1 2010. the 'change in private inventories' was 1.88 of the 2.7 percent annualized increase.

Any contributions to Q2 GDP from inventory changes will be minor or possibly even negative. This is one of the reasons I expect the change in real GDP growth to slow in the 2nd half.

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