Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whee! (GDP -6%)

Real GDP fell at an annual rate of 6.1% in the first quarter, according to the BEA's advance estimate. This follows a 6.3% rate of decline in the fourth quarter of 2008...(Note: "annual rate" means that the pace of decline would result in a fall of 6.1% over a year, not that GDP decreased 6.1% in the first three months of the year).

The reaction from James Hamilton at Econbrowser, Catherine Rampell at Economix and Justin Fox of Curious Capitalist includes a couple of hopeful signs: while investment plummeted (fixed investment fell at a 37.9% rate), consumption began to pick up, increasing at a 2.2% rate (durable goods purchases rose at a 9.4% clip). Also, a significant part of the fall was accounted for by a decrease in inventories, which would suggest firms may need to start increasing production.

Of course, the data are subject to revision... we'll get the "preliminary" estimate on May 29.

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