Friday, April 28, 2017

Q1 GDP: Investment

by Bill McBride on 4/28/2017 09:59:00 AM

First, the soft Q1 GDP data is part of a recent trend of weak first quarters, and was mostly due to weak PCE and inventory adjustment - no worries. It was pretty clear that PCE would be weak in Q1 (see two-month method). However investment was solid.

The first graph below shows the contribution to GDP from residential investment, equipment and software, and nonresidential structures (3 quarter trailing average). 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.

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

The dashed gray line is the contribution from the change in private inventories.

Investment ContributionsClick on graph for larger image.

Residential investment (RI) increased at a 13.7% annual rate in Q1.  Equipment investment increased at a 9.1% annual rate, and investment in non-residential structures increased at a 22.1% annual rate.

On a 3 quarter trailing average basis, RI (red) is unchanged,  equipment (green) is also unchanged, and nonresidential structures (blue) is slightly positive.

I'll post more on the components of non-residential investment once the supplemental data is released.

I expect investment to be solid going forward, and for the economy to continue to grow.
Residential Investment
The second graph shows residential investment as a percent of GDP.

Residential Investment as a percent of GDP has generally been increasing, but is only just above the bottom of the previous recessions - and I expect RI to continue to increase for the next few years.

I'll break down Residential Investment into components after the GDP details are released.

Note: Residential investment (RI) includes new single family structures, multifamily structures, home improvement, broker's commissions, and a few minor categories.

non-Residential InvestmentThe third graph shows non-residential investment in structures, equipment and "intellectual property products".  Investment in equipment - as a percent of GDP - picked up a little.  Investment in nonresidential structures - as a percent of GDP - had been moving down due to less investment in energy and power, and is now picking up again.

Still no worries.