Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Q1 GDP Increases 0.6%

by Calculated Risk on 4/30/2008 08:51:00 AM

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the U.S. economy grew at a 0.6% annual real rate in Q1 2006, mostly because of a buildup in inventories. Without the unwanted buildup in inventory, GDP would have been negative, suggesting the economy is in recession.

Consumer spending was up 1.0% at an annual rate, with services up 3.4% (the two month method predicted 1% PCE growth in Q1), and investment spending was off in all categories: residential investment off -26.7%, non-residential structures off -6.2%, and equipment and software investment off -0.7%.

Residential Investment as Percent of GDP Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows residential investment (RI) as a percent of GDP since 1960. RI as a percent of GDP is now at 3.8%, still well above the investment lows in 1982 (3.15%) and 1991 (3.3%). RI will probably decline further over the next few quarters.

Perhaps more important for the economy is that investment in equipment and software, and investment in non-residential structures, both turned negative in Q1. This is important because business investment slumps are highly correlated with the beginning of a recession.

Non-Residential Structure Investment as Percent of GDP The second graph shows non-residential investment in structures as a percent of GDP since 1960.

Non-RI structure investment has finally turned negative, and will probably decline sharply during 2008. See CRE Bust: How Deep, How Fast?

More on investment later.