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"Bringing the measurements of critical economic activities into the twenty-first century by
mining tracking data for an understanding of what American consumers were doing yesterday."


Monthly Weighted Composite Consumer Leading Indicator for Past 48 Months



Monthly Weighted Composite Consumer Leading Indicator for Past 48 Months


Last 10 Monthly Index Values
Date:09/201610/201611/201612/201601/201702/201703/201704/201705/201706/2017
Value:97.4096.2295.1994.7094.4990.9992.4696.9593.6489.65


Daily Growth Index Past 60 Days


 Daily Growth Index Past 60 Days(1): 
 
Chart
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 Notes:
  (1) The daily values for the Consumer Metrics Institute's 91-day 'Trailing Quarter' Growth Index over the past 60 days. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for a more complete description of our Growth Index.


 


Daily Growth Index -vs- Full GDP Past 48 Months


 Growth Index -vs- Full GDP, Past 4 Years(2): 
 
Chart
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 Notes:
  (2) The Consumer Metrics Institute's 91-day 'Trailing Quarter' Growth Index -vs- BEA's Quarterly Full GDP Growth Rates over past 4 years. The quarterly GDP growth rates are shown as 3-month plateaus in the graph. The Consumer Metrics Institute's Growth Index is plotted as a monthly average.


 


BEA's "Real" GDP -vs- BPP Deflated "Nominal" GDP, Past 4 Years


 BEA "Real" GDP -vs- BPP Deflated "Nominal" GDP, Past 4 Years(3,4): 
 
Chart
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 Notes:
  (3) In the blue line above the BEA's nominal GDP has been deflated using the inflation rate measured by the Billion Prices Project (BPP) index.
  (4) Note that when deflating the line items in the GDP tables from the BEA it is important to treat the "nominal" import and export data as the effective net "real" data -- since there are no offsetting domestic transactions carrying the correspondingly inflated or deflated prices (i.e., the one-sided net impact of inflating imported commodities is "real" to the economy). The net consequences of inflating import prices may become material in times of substantial and sustained trade imbalances.


 


BEA's "Real" GDP -vs- BLS Deflated Per-Capita GDP, Past 4 Years


 BEA "Real" GDP -vs- BLS Deflated Per-Capita GDP, Past 4 Years(5): 
 
Chart
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 Notes:
  (5) Line items in the BEA's nominal GDP are deflated by either the Bureau of Labor Statistic's (BLS) CPI-U index or the BLS PPI index, and reported on a per-capita basis by using Census Bureau projected mid-quarter population data.


 


BEA's "Real" GDP -vs- BLS Deflated Per-Capita Disposable Income, Past 4 Years


 BEA "Real" GDP -vs- BLS Deflated Per-Capita Disposable Income, Past 4 Years(6): 
 
Chart
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 Notes:
  (6) Line items in the BEA's Disposable Personal Income report are deflated by the Bureau of Labor Statistic's (BLS) CPI-U index and reported on a per-capita basis by using Census Bureau projected mid-quarter population data.


 


BEA's "Real" GDP -vs- BLS Deflated Per-Capita Proprietors Income, Past 4 Years


 BEA "Real" GDP -vs- BLS Deflated Per-Capita Proprietor Income, Past 4 Years(7): 
 
Chart
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 Notes:
  (7) The Proprietors' income (with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) line from the BEA's Disposable Personal Income report are deflated by the Bureau of Labor Statistic's (BLS) CPI-U index and reported on a per-capita basis by using Census Bureau projected mid-quarter population data.


 

Commentary


     
  June 29, 2017 - BEA Revises 1st Quarter 2017 GDP Growth Upward To 1.42%:

In their third and final estimate of the US GDP for the first quarter of 2017, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revised the growth of the US economy upward to a +1.42% annual rate, up +0.26% from their previous estimate for the first quarter but still down over a half percent (-0.66%) from the +2.08% reported for the fourth quarter of 2016.

Weak consumer spending grew at a meager +0.75% annualized rate during the quarter, up +0.31 from the previous estimate but still down a significant -1.65% from the prior quarter. The previously reported inventory contraction worsened slightly to a -1.11% annual pace (a swing of -2.12% from the prior quarter). Although government spending was revised upward +0.04%, it still contracted during the quarter, removing -0.16% from the headline.

The good news continued to be commercial fixed investment, which although revised downward -0.14% is still now adding +1.71% to the headline. Foreign trade was also revised upward slightly (+0.09%) to a +0.23% contribution to the headline number, up some +2.05% from the prior quarter.

The BEA's "bottom line" (their "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product", which excludes the contracting inventories) was more than a full percent better than the headline at +2.53%, up +1.46% from the 1.07% rate recorded 4Q-2016.

Real annualized household disposable income was essentially unchanged at an annualized $39,360 (in 2009 dollars). The household savings rate was revised -0.1% lower to 5.1%.

For the fourth quarter the BEA assumed an effective annualized deflator of 1.94%. During the same quarter (January 2017 through March 2017) the inflation recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their CPI-U index was lower at 1.54%. Over estimating inflation results in pessimistic growth rates, and if the BEA's "nominal" data was deflated using CPI-U inflation information the headline growth number would have been somewhat higher at a +1.84% annualized growth rate.

Among the notable items in the report :

-- The headline contribution from consumer expenditures for goods was still a miniscule +0.11% growth rate (down -1.18% from the prior quarter).

-- The contribution to the headline from consumer spending on services strengthened as it was revised upward +0.27% to +0.64% (although that was down -0.47% from the prior quarter). The entirety of the increase came in upward revisions to the costs of healthcare and insurance (+0.38%). The combined consumer contribution to the headline number was +0.75%, down -1.65% from 4Q-2016.

-- The headline contribution from commercial private fixed investments was revised downward -0.14% to +1.71%, although that remained +1.25% higher than the prior quarter. That growth was primarily in non-residential construction.

-- Inventory contraction deducted -1.11% from the headline number, a downward revision of -0.04% from the previous estimate and down -2.12% from the prior quarter. It is important to remember that the BEA's inventory numbers are exceptionally noisy (and susceptible to significant distortions/anomalies caused by commodity price or currency swings) while ultimately representing a zero reverting (and long term essentially zero sum) series.

-- Governmental spending was still reported to be contracting, although at a revised lower annual rate (at -0.16%, down -0.19% from the prior quarter).

-- Exports were revised upward +0.13% to a +0.82% contribution to the headline, a +1.37% improvement from the prior quarter.

-- Imports were revised downward (-0.04%), and they subtracted -0.59% from the headline number (up +0.68% from the prior quarter). In aggregate, foreign trade added +0.23% to the headline number after subtracting -1.82% during the prior quarter.

-- The "real final sales of domestic product" grew at an annualized 2.53%, up +0.30% from the previous estimate and up +1.46% from the prior quarter. This is the BEA's "bottom line" measurement of the economy and it excludes the reported inventory contraction.

-- As mentioned above, real per-capita annual disposable income was essentially unchanged. At the same time the household savings rate was revised downward again by -0.1%. It is important to keep this line item in perspective: real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.32% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 -- a meager annualized +0.81% growth rate over the past 35 quarters.




The Numbers, As Revised

As a quick reminder, the classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation :

GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports - imports)


or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand :

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)


In the new report the values for that equation (total dollars, percentage of the total GDP, and contribution to the final percentage growth number) are as follows :

GDP Components Table

Total GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)
Annual $ (trillions) $19.0 = $13.1 + $3.1 + $3.3 + $-0.6
% of GDP 100.00% = 68.96% + 16.50% + 17.50% + -2.96%
Contribution to GDP Growth % 1.42% = 0.75% + 0.60% + -0.16% + 0.23%


The quarter-to-quarter changes in the contributions that various components make to the overall GDP can be best understood from the table below, which breaks out the component contributions in more detail and over time. In the table below we have split the "C" component into goods and services, split the "I" component into fixed investment and inventories, separated exports from imports, added a line for the BEA's "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product" and listed the quarters in columns with the most current to the left :

Quarterly Changes in % Contributions to GDP

1Q-2017 4Q-2016 3Q-2016 2Q-2016 1Q-2016 4Q-2015 3Q-2015 2Q-2015 1Q-2015 4Q-2014 3Q-2014 2Q-2014 1Q-2014
Total GDP Growth 1.42% 2.08% 3.53% 1.42% 0.83% 0.88% 1.98% 2.62% 2.05% 2.31% 4.96% 3.96% -1.18%
Consumer Goods 0.11% 1.29% 0.77% 1.51% 0.25% 0.47% 0.92% 0.94% 0.59% 1.14% 0.98% 1.50% 0.54%
Consumer Services 0.64% 1.11% 1.26% 1.37% 0.86% 1.07% 0.89% 1.00% 1.04% 1.93% 1.54% 1.06% 0.73%
Fixed Investment 1.71% 0.46% 0.02% -0.18% -0.15% -0.03% 0.92% 0.70% 0.61% 0.22% 1.16% 1.12% 0.79%
Inventories -1.11% 1.01% 0.49% -1.16% -0.41% -0.36% -0.57% -0.52% 1.01% 0.23% 0.32% 0.67% -1.89%
Government -0.16% 0.03% 0.14% -0.30% 0.28% 0.18% 0.34% 0.57% 0.45% -0.07% 0.46% 0.02% -0.19%
Exports 0.82% -0.55% 1.16% 0.21% -0.09% -0.34% -0.36% 0.37% -0.78% 0.60% 0.29% 1.16% -0.39%
Imports -0.59% -1.27% -0.31% -0.03% 0.09% -0.11% -0.16% -0.44% -0.87% -1.74% 0.21% -1.57% -0.77%
Real Final Sales 2.53% 1.07% 3.04% 2.58% 1.24% 1.24% 2.55% 3.14% 1.04% 2.08% 4.64% 3.29% 0.71%





Summary and Commentary

This revision boosts the headline growth about a quarter percent to +1.42% -- better but still tepid. The notable takeaways from this report are :

-- The largest upward revision was in consumer spending for healthcare and insurance.

-- The growth rate for consumer spending on goods remains anemic.

-- The inventory contraction worsened, possibly in anticipation of softer future consumer spending.

-- Foreign trade remained a bright spot and is not a drag on the headline number.

The US consumer may be spending more, but that increased spending is not on discretionary "life-style" goods. And as per usual, the Fed is once again projecting a return to "normalcy" in the form of 3% growth in future quarters -- with consumer spending leading the way. But if this past quarter's pattern persists those consumers may continue to face a toxic mix of stagnant disposable income, rising insurance costs and shrinking savings -- not exactly a formula for happy campers.
 
     
     
  May 26, 2017 - BEA Revises 1st Quarter 2017 GDP Growth Upward To 1.16%:

In their second estimate of the US GDP for the first quarter of 2017, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revised the growth of the US economy upward to a +1.16% annual rate, up +0.47% from their previous estimate for the first quarter but still down nearly a percent (-0.92%) from the +2.08% reported for the fourth quarter of 2016.

Weak consumer spending grew at a meager +0.44% annualized rate during the quarter, up +0.21 from the previous estimate but still down a significant -1.96% from the prior quarter. The previously reported inventory contraction worsened slightly to a -1.07% annual pace (a swing of -2.08% from the prior quarter). Although government spending was revised upward +0.10%, it still contracted during the quarter, removing -0.20% from the headline.

The good news continued to be commercial fixed investment, which was revised upward +0.23% and is now adding +1.85% to the headline. Foreign trade was also revised upward slightly (+0.07%) to a +0.14% contribution to the headline number, up some +1.96% from the prior quarter.

The BEA's "bottom line" (their "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product", which excludes the contracting inventories) was more than a full percent better than the headline at +2.23%, up +1.16% from the 1.07% rate recorded 4Q-2016.

Real annualized household disposable income was revised downward $160 and it is now an annualized $39,359 (in 2009 dollars). The household savings rate was revised -0.5% lower to 5.2%.

For the fourth quarter the BEA assumed an effective annualized deflator of 2.21%. During the same quarter (January 2017 through March 2017) the inflation recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their CPI-U index was lower at 1.54%. Over estimating inflation results in pessimistic growth rates, and if the BEA's "nominal" data was deflated using CPI-U inflation information the headline growth number would have been somewhat higher at a +1.85% annualized growth rate.

Among the notable items in the report :

-- The headline contribution from consumer expenditures for goods was still a miniscule +0.07% growth rate (down -1.22% from the prior quarter).

-- The contribution to the headline from consumer spending on services remained anemic even as it was revised upward slightly to +0.37% (down -0.74% from the prior quarter). The combined consumer contribution to the headline number was +0.44%, down -1.96% from 4Q-2016.

-- The headline contribution from commercial private fixed investments was revised upward +0.23% to +1.85%, up +1.39% from the prior quarter. That growth was mostly in non-residential construction.

-- Inventory contraction deducted -1.07% from the headline number, a downward revision of -0.14% from the previous estimate and down -2.08% from the prior quarter. It is important to remember that the BEA's inventory numbers are exceptionally noisy (and susceptible to significant distortions/anomalies caused by commodity price or currency swings) while ultimately representing a zero reverting (and long term essentially zero sum) series.

-- Governmental spending was still reported to be contracting, although at a revised lower annual rate (at -0.20%, down -0.23% from the prior quarter).

-- Exports were essentially unchanged (+0.01%) at a +0.69% contribution to the headline, a +1.24% improvement from the prior quarter.

-- Imports were also mostly unchanged (+0.06%), and they subtracted -0.55% from the headline number (up +0.72% from the prior quarter). In aggregate, foreign trade added +0.14% to the headline number after subtracting -1.82% during the prior quarter.

-- The "real final sales of domestic product" grew at an annualized 2.23%, up +0.61% from the previous estimate and up +1.16% from the prior quarter. This is the BEA's "bottom line" measurement of the economy and it excludes the reported inventory contraction.

-- As mentioned above, real per-capita annual disposable income was adjusted downward $160 (after a sharp downward revision to the 4th quarter). At the same time the household savings rate was revised downward -0.5%. It is important to keep this line item in perspective: real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.31% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 -- a meager annualized +0.81% growth rate over the past 35 quarters.




The Numbers, As Revised

As a quick reminder, the classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation :

GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports - imports)


or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand :

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)


In the new report the values for that equation (total dollars, percentage of the total GDP, and contribution to the final percentage growth number) are as follows :

GDP Components Table

Total GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)
Annual $ (trillions) $19.0 = $13.1 + $3.1 + $3.3 + $-0.6
% of GDP 100.00% = 68.89% + 16.55% + 17.49% + -2.93%
Contribution to GDP Growth % 1.16% = 0.44% + 0.78% + -0.20% + 0.14%


The quarter-to-quarter changes in the contributions that various components make to the overall GDP can be best understood from the table below, which breaks out the component contributions in more detail and over time. In the table below we have split the "C" component into goods and services, split the "I" component into fixed investment and inventories, separated exports from imports, added a line for the BEA's "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product" and listed the quarters in columns with the most current to the left :

Quarterly Changes in % Contributions to GDP

1Q-2017 4Q-2016 3Q-2016 2Q-2016 1Q-2016 4Q-2015 3Q-2015 2Q-2015 1Q-2015 4Q-2014 3Q-2014 2Q-2014 1Q-2014
Total GDP Growth 1.16% 2.08% 3.53% 1.42% 0.83% 0.88% 1.98% 2.62% 2.05% 2.31% 4.96% 3.96% -1.18%
Consumer Goods 0.07% 1.29% 0.77% 1.51% 0.25% 0.47% 0.92% 0.94% 0.59% 1.14% 0.98% 1.50% 0.54%
Consumer Services 0.37% 1.11% 1.26% 1.37% 0.86% 1.07% 0.89% 1.00% 1.04% 1.93% 1.54% 1.06% 0.73%
Fixed Investment 1.85% 0.46% 0.02% -0.18% -0.15% -0.03% 0.92% 0.70% 0.61% 0.22% 1.16% 1.12% 0.79%
Inventories -1.07% 1.01% 0.49% -1.16% -0.41% -0.36% -0.57% -0.52% 1.01% 0.23% 0.32% 0.67% -1.89%
Government -0.20% 0.03% 0.14% -0.30% 0.28% 0.18% 0.34% 0.57% 0.45% -0.07% 0.46% 0.02% -0.19%
Exports 0.69% -0.55% 1.16% 0.21% -0.09% -0.34% -0.36% 0.37% -0.78% 0.60% 0.29% 1.16% -0.39%
Imports -0.55% -1.27% -0.31% -0.03% 0.09% -0.11% -0.16% -0.44% -0.87% -1.74% 0.21% -1.57% -0.77%
Real Final Sales 2.23% 1.07% 3.04% 2.58% 1.24% 1.24% 2.55% 3.14% 1.04% 2.08% 4.64% 3.29% 0.71%





Summary and Commentary

This revision boosts the headline growth about a half percent to +1.16% -- although it remains firmly mired in tepid growth territory. The notable takeaways from an otherwise statistically insignificant report are :

-- The largest (and arguably only materially positive) revision was in commercial fixed investments, which was reported to be growing at the strongest rate the BEA has recorded over the past five years.

-- Consumer spending growth remains anemic.

-- The inventory contraction worsened, possibly in anticipation of softer future consumer spending.

-- Foreign trade remained a bright spot and not a drag on the headline number.

-- Historically, first calendar quarters are generally weaker than the other three quarters -- even though the numbers are purportedly "seasonally adjusted." Perhaps those adjustments need to be revisited.

If the US economy is consumer driven, that driver appears to be seriously distracted. Normally US consumer FUD ("Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt") is strictly a pre-election phenomenon. This time around FUD seems to have lingered far longer than normal.
 
     
     
  April 28, 2017 - BEA Estimates 1st Quarter 2017 GDP Growth At 0.69%:

In their first (preliminary) estimate of the US GDP for the first quarter of 2017, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the US economy was growing at a +0.69% annual rate, down roughly two thirds (-1.39%) from the +2.08% reported for the prior quarter.

Total consumer spending grew at a meager +0.23% annualized rate during the quarter, down a significant -2.17% from the prior quarter. Inventory contraction removed another -0.93% from the headline number, a swing of -1.94% from the prior quarter. Government spending contracted during the quarter, removing -0.30% from the headline.

The good news was that commercial fixed investment added +1.62 to the headline, the strongest contribution since 1Q-2012 -- five years ago. And foreign trade also improved markedly to an essentially neutral contribution (+0.07%), up some +1.89% from the prior quarter.

The BEA's "bottom line" (their "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product", which excludes the growing inventories) was nearly a full percent better than the headline at +1.62%, up +0.55% from the 1.07% rate recorded 4Q-2016.

Real annualized household disposable income was reported to have grown only $42 quarter-to-quarter, to an annualized $39,519 (in 2009 dollars). The household savings rate grew slightly to 5.7%. The slow disposable income growth and the increased savings rate in large part explain the softened growth in consumer spending.

For the fourth quarter the BEA assumed an effective annualized deflator of 2.25%. During the same quarter (January 2017 through March 2017) the inflation recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their CPI-U index was lower at 1.54%. Over estimating inflation results in pessimistic growth rates, and if the BEA's "nominal" data was deflated using CPI-U inflation information the headline growth number would have been somewhat higher at a +1.41% annualized growth rate.

Among the notable items in the report :

-- The headline contribution from consumer expenditures for goods was a miniscule +0.02% growth rate (down -1.27% from the prior quarter).

-- The contribution to the headline from consumer spending on services was +0.21% (down -0.90% from the prior quarter), and the vast majority of the remaining increase was from greater healthcare spending. The combined consumer contribution to the headline number was +0.23%, down -2.17% from 4Q-2016.

-- The headline contribution from commercial private fixed investments was reported to be +1.62%, up 1.16% from the prior quarter. That growth was mostly from non-residential construction.

-- Inventory contraction deducted -0.93% from the headline number, down -1.94% from the prior quarter. It is important to remember that the BEA's inventory numbers are exceptionally noisy (and susceptible to significant distortions/anomalies caused by commodity price or currency swings) while ultimately representing a zero reverting (and long term essentially zero sum) series.

-- Governmental spending contracted, removing -0.30% from the headline number (down -0.33% from the prior quarter). The contraction was nearly equally split between Federal and state/local spending.

-- Exports strengthened significantly quarter-to-quarter, swinging to +0.68% growth after contracting -0.55% in the prior quarter.

-- Imports subtracted -0.61% from the headline number, up +0.66% from the prior quarter. In aggregate, foreign trade added +0.07% to the headline number after subtracting -1.82% during the prior quarter.

-- The "real final sales of domestic product" grew at an annualized +1.62%, up +0.55% from the prior quarter. This is the BEA's "bottom line" measurement of the economy and it excludes the reported inventory growth.

-- As mentioned above, real per-capita annual disposable income was reported to have grown by only $42 quarter-to-quarter. At the same time the household savings rate increased to 5.7%. It is important to keep this line item in perspective: real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.75% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 -- a meager annualized +0.86% growth rate over the past 35 quarters.




The Numbers

As a quick reminder, the classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation :

GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports - imports)


or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand :

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)


In the new report the values for that equation (total dollars, percentage of the total GDP, and contribution to the final percentage growth number) are as follows :

GDP Components Table

Total GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)
Annual $ (trillions) $19.0 = $13.1 + $3.1 + $3.3 + $-0.6
% of GDP 100.00% = 68.90% + 16.55% + 17.48% + -2.94%
Contribution to GDP Growth % 0.69% = 0.23% + 0.69% + -0.30% + 0.07%


The quarter-to-quarter changes in the contributions that various components make to the overall GDP can be best understood from the table below, which breaks out the component contributions in more detail and over time. In the table below we have split the "C" component into goods and services, split the "I" component into fixed investment and inventories, separated exports from imports, added a line for the BEA's "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product" and listed the quarters in columns with the most current to the left :

Quarterly Changes in % Contributions to GDP

1Q-2017 4Q-2016 3Q-2016 2Q-2016 1Q-2016 4Q-2015 3Q-2015 2Q-2015 1Q-2015 4Q-2014 3Q-2014 2Q-2014 1Q-2014
Total GDP Growth 0.69% 2.08% 3.53% 1.42% 0.83% 0.88% 1.98% 2.62% 2.05% 2.31% 4.96% 3.96% -1.18%
Consumer Goods 0.02% 1.29% 0.77% 1.51% 0.25% 0.47% 0.92% 0.94% 0.59% 1.14% 0.98% 1.50% 0.54%
Consumer Services 0.21% 1.11% 1.26% 1.37% 0.86% 1.07% 0.89% 1.00% 1.04% 1.93% 1.54% 1.06% 0.73%
Fixed Investment 1.62% 0.46% 0.02% -0.18% -0.15% -0.03% 0.92% 0.70% 0.61% 0.22% 1.16% 1.12% 0.79%
Inventories -0.93% 1.01% 0.49% -1.16% -0.41% -0.36% -0.57% -0.52% 1.01% 0.23% 0.32% 0.67% -1.89%
Government -0.30% 0.03% 0.14% -0.30% 0.28% 0.18% 0.34% 0.57% 0.45% -0.07% 0.46% 0.02% -0.19%
Exports 0.68% -0.55% 1.16% 0.21% -0.09% -0.34% -0.36% 0.37% -0.78% 0.60% 0.29% 1.16% -0.39%
Imports -0.61% -1.27% -0.31% -0.03% 0.09% -0.11% -0.16% -0.44% -0.87% -1.74% 0.21% -1.57% -0.77%
Real Final Sales 1.62% 1.07% 3.04% 2.58% 1.24% 1.24% 2.55% 3.14% 1.04% 2.08% 4.64% 3.29% 0.71%





Summary and Commentary

This report records a significant weakening in the growth of consumer spending, while commercial investment and foreign trade improved. The notable takeaways from the report are :

-- The consumer spending growth that remains can be accounted for entirely by increased healthcare costs.

-- Inventories contracted, arguably in anticipation of softer consumer spending.

-- Foreign trade reversed direction and for a change was not a drag on the headline number.

-- Commercial fixed investment was the strongest in five years.

The US economy is consumer driven; and for the moment that engine of growth has shifted into neutral. Wall Street euphoria notwithstanding, until disposable income shows significant signs of improvement, neutral may be the best that we can expect.
 
     
     
  March 30, 2017 - BEA Revision Revises 4th Quarter 2016 GDP Growth Upward To 2.08%:

In their third and final estimate of the US GDP for the fourth quarter of 2016, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the US economy was growing at a +2.08% annual rate, up slightly from the +1.85% previously reported but down by -1.45% from the prior quarter.

The improvement in the reported growth came primarily from increased consumer spending on services, with smaller increases in consumer goods spending and inventories also boosting the headline number. Offsetting those increases were continued weakening in commercial fixed investment, governmental spending and foreign trade.

The BEA's "bottom line" (their "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product", which excludes the growing inventories) grew slightly to +1.07%, although it remained down nearly 2% (-1.97%) from 3Q-2016.

Real annualized household disposable income was reported to have grown by $123 quarter-to-quarter, to an annualized $39,477 (in 2009 dollars). The household savings rate weakened slightly to 5.5%.

For the fourth quarter the BEA assumed an effective annualized deflator of 2.10%. During the same quarter (October 2016 through December 2016) the inflation recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their CPI-U index was 3.05%. Under estimating inflation results in correspondingly over optimistic growth rates, and if the BEA's "nominal" data was deflated using CPI-U inflation information the headline growth number would have been at a +1.17% annualized growth rate.

Among the notable items in the report :

-- The headline contribution from consumer expenditures for goods was revised upward to a +1.29% growth rate (up +0.06% from the previous report and +0.52% from the prior quarter).

-- The contribution to the headline from consumer spending on services was revised upward to +1.11% (up +0.30% from the previous report but still down -0.15% from the prior quarter). The combined consumer contribution to the headline number was +2.40%, up +0.37 from 3Q-2016.

-- The headline contribution from commercial private fixed investments was reported to be +0.46%, down -0.05% from the previous report but up +0.44 from the prior quarter. That growth is about equally split between residential and commercial construction.

-- The contribution from inventories was revised upward by +0.07% to +1.01%, which was more than double the +0.49% growth rate recorded during the prior quarter. It is important to remember that the BEA's inventory numbers are exceptionally noisy (and susceptible to significant distortions/anomalies caused by commodity price or currency swings) while ultimately representing a zero reverting (and long term essentially zero sum) series.

-- The headline contribution from governmental spending was halved to +0.03%, roughly a fifth of the growth rate from the prior quarter. The entirety of this quarter-to-quarter growth was accounted for by state and local capital expenditures.

-- Exports weakened further and remained in contraction at -0.55%, down -1.71% from the prior quarter.

-- Imports subtracted another -1.27% from the headline number, down -0.96% from the prior quarter. In aggregate, foreign trade subtracted -1.82% from the headline number (a -2.67% change from the prior quarter).

-- The "real final sales of domestic product" remained relatively weak at +1.07%, down nearly 2% (-1.97%) from the prior quarter. This is the BEA's "bottom line" measurement of the economy and it excludes the reported inventory growth.

-- As mentioned above, real per-capita annual disposable income was reported to have grown by $123 quarter-to-quarter. At the same time the household savings rate weakened slightly to 5.5%, some -0.6% lower than the level recorded in the second quarter of 2016. It is important to keep this line item in perspective: real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.63% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 -- a meager annualized +0.87% growth rate over the past 34 quarters.




The Numbers, as Revised

As a quick reminder, the classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation :

GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports - imports)


or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand :

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)


In the new report the values for that equation (total dollars, percentage of the total GDP, and contribution to the final percentage growth number) are as follows :

GDP Components Table

Total GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)
Annual $ (trillions) $18.9 = $13.0 + $3.1 + $3.3 + $-0.5
% of GDP 100.00% = 68.94% + 16.44% + 17.51% + -2.89%
Contribution to GDP Growth % 2.08% = 2.40% + 1.47% + 0.03% + -1.82%


The quarter-to-quarter changes in the contributions that various components make to the overall GDP can be best understood from the table below, which breaks out the component contributions in more detail and over time. In the table below we have split the "C" component into goods and services, split the "I" component into fixed investment and inventories, separated exports from imports, added a line for the BEA's "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product" and listed the quarters in columns with the most current to the left :

Quarterly Changes in % Contributions to GDP

4Q-2016 3Q-2016 2Q-2016 1Q-2016 4Q-2015 3Q-2015 2Q-2015 1Q-2015 4Q-2014 3Q-2014 2Q-2014 1Q-2014 4Q-2013 3Q-2013 2Q-2013 1Q-2013
Total GDP Growth 2.08% 3.53% 1.42% 0.83% 0.88% 1.98% 2.62% 2.05% 2.31% 4.96% 3.96% -1.18% 3.96% 3.12% 0.78% 2.83%
Consumer Goods 1.29% 0.77% 1.51% 0.25% 0.47% 0.92% 0.94% 0.59% 1.14% 0.98% 1.50% 0.54% 0.90% 0.67% 0.30% 1.30%
Consumer Services 1.11% 1.26% 1.37% 0.86% 1.07% 0.89% 1.00% 1.04% 1.93% 1.54% 1.06% 0.73% 1.39% 0.61% 0.28% 0.02%
Fixed Investment 0.46% 0.02% -0.18% -0.15% -0.03% 0.92% 0.70% 0.61% 0.22% 1.16% 1.12% 0.79% 1.01% 0.48% 0.70% 1.12%
Inventories 1.01% 0.49% -1.16% -0.41% -0.36% -0.57% -0.52% 1.01% 0.23% 0.32% 0.67% -1.89% -0.11% 1.60% 0.08% 0.92%
Government 0.03% 0.14% -0.30% 0.28% 0.18% 0.34% 0.57% 0.45% -0.07% 0.46% 0.02% -0.19% -0.53% -0.37% -0.37% -0.83%
Exports -0.55% 1.16% 0.21% -0.09% -0.34% -0.36% 0.37% -0.78% 0.60% 0.29% 1.16% -0.39% 1.54% 0.41% 0.65% 0.52%
Imports -1.27% -0.31% -0.03% 0.09% -0.11% -0.16% -0.44% -0.87% -1.74% 0.21% -1.57% -0.77% -0.24% -0.28% -0.86% -0.22%
Real Final Sales 1.07% 3.04% 2.58% 1.24% 1.24% 2.55% 3.14% 1.04% 2.08% 4.64% 3.29% 0.71% 4.07% 1.52% 0.70% 1.91%





Summary and Commentary

This revision continued the trend of a "not great, but on the other hand not really bad" headline. The primary source of the growth also continued to shift from commercial investments to consumers. Notable in the report were the following:

-- In the prior quarter the BEA reported that the US GDP was growing at a 3.53% annualized rate. Now that growth has dropped by -1.45%.

-- The BEA's "bottom line" final sales growth rate dropped quarter-to-quarter by nearly -2%.

-- Foreign trade continues to crash, with no particular relief in sight.

-- The inflation neutralizing deflator the BEA used (+2.10%) was materially below the inflation rate recorded by the BEA's sister agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (+3.05%). Using the BLS data to deflate the numbers results in a 1.17% growth rate.

For the moment this closes the BEA's book on the fourth quarter of 2016. A roughly 2% growth rate is certainly acceptable, but it is not the sort of growth rate that normally generates delirious optimism in the equity markets. Next month we should begin to find out how much of that optimism is economically warranted.
 
     
     
  February 28, 2017 - BEA Revision Revises 4th Quarter 2016 GDP Growth To 1.85%:

In their second estimate of the US GDP for the fourth quarter of 2016, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the US economic growth rate was +1.85%, essentially unchanged from the +1.87% previously reported but down by nearly half (-1.68%) from the prior quarter.

Although there was no material change in the headline number, the composition of that number was revised in several ways. Consumer spending on goods and services was revised upward by an aggregate of +0.35%. Meanwhile fixed commercial investment, inventories and governmental spending were revised in aggregate downward by -0.37% -- completely offsetting the consumer gains.

The BEA's "bottom line" (their "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product", which excludes the growing inventories) continues to record a sub 1% growth rate (+0.91%), down over 2% (-2.13%) from 3Q-2016.

Real annualized household disposable income was reported to have grown by $127 quarter-to-quarter, to an annualized $39,481 (in 2009 dollars). The household savings rate was unchanged at 5.6%.

For the fourth quarter the BEA assumed an effective annualized deflator of 2.03%. During the same quarter (October 2016 through December 2016) the inflation recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their CPI-U index was 3.05%. Under estimating inflation results in correspondingly over optimistic growth rates, and if the BEA's "nominal" data was deflated using CPI-U inflation information the headline growth number would have been below 1%, at a +0.87% annualized growth rate.

Among the notable items in the report :

-- The headline contribution from consumer expenditures for goods was revised upward to a +1.23% growth rate (up +0.12% from the previous report and +0.46% from the prior quarter).

-- The contribution to the headline from consumer spending on services was revised upward to +0.81% (up +0.23% from the previous report but still down -0.45% from the prior quarter). The combined consumer contribution to the headline number was +2.04%, essentially unchanged from 3Q-2016.

-- The headline contribution from commercial private fixed investments was reported to be +0.51%, down -0.16% from the previous report but up +0.49 from the prior quarter. That growth is about equally split between residential and commercial construction.

-- The contribution from inventories was revised downward by -0.06% to +0.94%, which was still nearly double the +0.49% growth rate recorded during the prior quarter. It is important to remember that the BEA's inventory numbers are exceptionally noisy (and susceptible to significant distortions/anomalies caused by commodity price or currency swings) while ultimately representing a zero reverting (and long term essentially zero sum) series.

-- The previous positive headline contribution from governmental spending was revised downward by -0.15% to +0.06%, less than a third of the number in the previous report. The entirety of this revision and the remaining quarter-to-quarter growth was accounted for by state and local capital expenditures.

-- Exports remained in contraction at -0.50%, down -1.66% from the prior quarter.

-- Imports subtracted another -1.20% from the headline number, down -0.89% from the prior quarter. In aggregate, foreign trade subtracted -1.70% from the headline number.

-- The "real final sales of domestic product" remained essentially unchanged at a relatively weak +0.91%, down over 2% (-2.13%) from the prior quarter. This is the BEA's "bottom line" measurement of the economy and it excludes the reported inventory growth.

-- As mentioned above, real per-capita annual disposable income was reported to have grown by $127 quarter-to-quarter. At the same time the household savings rate remained unchanged at 5.6%, some -0.3% lower than the level recorded in the second quarter of 2016. It is important to keep this line item in perspective: real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.65% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 -- a meager annualized +0.87% growth rate over the past 34 quarters.




The Numbers, as Revised

As a quick reminder, the classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation :

GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports - imports)


or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand :

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)


In the new report the values for that equation (total dollars, percentage of the total GDP, and contribution to the final percentage growth number) are as follows :

GDP Components Table

Total GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)
Annual $ (trillions) $18.9 = $13.0 + $3.1 + $3.3 + $-0.5
% of GDP 100.00% = 68.89% + 16.44% + 17.53% + -2.86%
Contribution to GDP Growth % 1.85% = 2.04% + 1.45% + 0.06% + -1.70%


The quarter-to-quarter changes in the contributions that various components make to the overall GDP can be best understood from the table below, which breaks out the component contributions in more detail and over time. In the table below we have split the "C" component into goods and services, split the "I" component into fixed investment and inventories, separated exports from imports, added a line for the BEA's "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product" and listed the quarters in columns with the most current to the left :

Quarterly Changes in % Contributions to GDP

4Q-2016 3Q-2016 2Q-2016 1Q-2016 4Q-2015 3Q-2015 2Q-2015 1Q-2015 4Q-2014 3Q-2014 2Q-2014 1Q-2014 4Q-2013 3Q-2013 2Q-2013 1Q-2013
Total GDP Growth 1.85% 3.53% 1.42% 0.83% 0.88% 1.98% 2.62% 2.05% 2.31% 4.96% 3.96% -1.18% 3.96% 3.12% 0.78% 2.83%
Consumer Goods 1.23% 0.77% 1.51% 0.25% 0.47% 0.92% 0.94% 0.59% 1.14% 0.98% 1.50% 0.54% 0.90% 0.67% 0.30% 1.30%
Consumer Services 0.81% 1.26% 1.37% 0.86% 1.07% 0.89% 1.00% 1.04% 1.93% 1.54% 1.06% 0.73% 1.39% 0.61% 0.28% 0.02%
Fixed Investment 0.51% 0.02% -0.18% -0.15% -0.03% 0.92% 0.70% 0.61% 0.22% 1.16% 1.12% 0.79% 1.01% 0.48% 0.70% 1.12%
Inventories 0.94% 0.49% -1.16% -0.41% -0.36% -0.57% -0.52% 1.01% 0.23% 0.32% 0.67% -1.89% -0.11% 1.60% 0.08% 0.92%
Government 0.06% 0.14% -0.30% 0.28% 0.18% 0.34% 0.57% 0.45% -0.07% 0.46% 0.02% -0.19% -0.53% -0.37% -0.37% -0.83%
Exports -0.50% 1.16% 0.21% -0.09% -0.34% -0.36% 0.37% -0.78% 0.60% 0.29% 1.16% -0.39% 1.54% 0.41% 0.65% 0.52%
Imports -1.20% -0.31% -0.03% 0.09% -0.11% -0.16% -0.44% -0.87% -1.74% 0.21% -1.57% -0.77% -0.24% -0.28% -0.86% -0.22%
Real Final Sales 0.91% 3.04% 2.58% 1.24% 1.24% 2.55% 3.14% 1.04% 2.08% 4.64% 3.29% 0.71% 4.07% 1.52% 0.70% 1.91%





Summary and Commentary

This revision was material only because the source components of the "not great, but on the other hand not really bad" headline were shifted in a zero-sum way from commercial investments and governmental expenditures to consumers. Notable in the report were the following:

-- In the prior quarter (covering the pre-election economy), the BEA reported that the US GDP was growing at a 3.53% annualized rate. Now that growth has been essentially halved.

-- The BEA's own "bottom line" final sales growth rate dropped over 2% and was below 1% (+0.91%) -- once growing inventories were factored out.

-- The inflation neutralizing deflator they used (+2.03%) was materially below the inflation rate recorded by the BEA's sister agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (+3.05%). Using the BLS data to deflate the numbers also results in a sub 1% growth rate (+0.87%).

As we mentioned last month, the fourth quarter was just "kind of, sort of" OK. Meanwhile, the BEA's "bottom line" sub 1% growth rate is somewhat less than OK. It will be interesting to see just how this headline holds up in the upcoming revisions.
 
     


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Contrarian Investors' Journal (03/30/2010)
 
Capitalogix (03/29/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (03/29/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (03/28/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (03/28/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (03/28/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (03/28/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (03/28/2010)
 
Contrarian Investors' Journal (03/16/2010)
 
America's Economic Future (03/15/2010)
 
The Big Picture (03/15/2010)
 
marknoonan.opinioneditorial.com (02/28/2010)
 
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis (02/26/2010)
 
Credit Writedowns (02/03/2010)
 
blogcatalog.com (01/12/2010)
 
Phil's Stock World (01/02/2010)
 
Phil's Stock World (01/02/2010)
 
Phil's Stock World (01/02/2010)
 
Sense on Cents (10/10/1010)
 


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