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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Merrill Lynch on Q1 GDP Revision

by Calculated Risk on 6/25/2014 02:09:00 PM

From Merrill Lynch:

In the final release of 1Q GDP, growth was revised down significantly to -2.9% qoq saar from -1.0% previously. This was a big disappointment ...

The downward revision owed to two primary factors: weaker consumer spending on healthcare and a wider trade deficit. Updated data on healthcare spending contributed to a 1.2pp downward revision to GDP growth ... The large change to healthcare spending was due to the BEA significantly overestimating the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The other major moving part was in net exports, largely due to a wider services trade deficit. ... This equates to an additional 0.6pp drag on GDP growth.
We caution against reading too much into the weakness, as it is clear that special factors during the quarter distorted growth. The severe winter weather weighed heavily on consumption, fixed investment and trade. Furthermore, there was a notable inventory drawdown that amounted to a 1.7pp drag on growth, following two strong quarters of inventory build in 3Q and 4Q of 2013. Despite the deeper contraction in this final release, we are not revising 2Q GDP growth. We continue to expect a 4.0% rebound in the second quarter, and the recent data suggest that we are headed in that direction. However, uncertainty around this number remains elevated: there could continue to be special factors at play stemming from the weakness in 1Q. Moreover, benchmark GDP revisions, released with the first estimate of 2Q GDP in July, could alter the trajectory.

Assuming 4.0% growth in 2Q and solid 3.0% growth in 2H, growth will still only average 1.7% this year. It certainly was not the start of the year we were hoping for.
emphasis added