Montag, 2. März 2009

GDP growth (or rather: lack thereof)

I was looking at the latest GDP growth rates (latest actual data for Q4 2008, not projections for 2009), courtesy of The Economist, and something doesn't look quite right:

The US is supposed to have posted year-on-year growth of -0.2 % in Q4. In other words, the data says the US economy was stagnating, not really contracting.

Whereas the data for the rest of the world paints a rather different picture:
- Eurozone: -1.2 %
- Mexico: -1.6 %
- Britain: -1.9 %
- Korea: -3.4 %
- Japan: -4.6 %
- Taiwan: -8.4 %
(OK, I left out Canada, which showed modest growth of 0.5 %)

Now how does that fit with the downright apocalyptic mood in the US? The rest of the world is supposed to have contracted sharply, but the US stayed flat? Is anybody supposed to believe these numbers?
(Data is year-on-year for Q4. In the Q4-compared-to-Q3 data, the US shows a decline of -3.8 % on an annualised basis. That's also much better than all the other countries just named)

In contrast, China's GDP growth sounds quite reasonable:

6.8 % year-on-year growth is much lower than the "usual" 10-11 %.

The drop isn't as steep as in most other East Asian countries. But then, China isn't as export-dependent as the others (the high export/GDP ratio is somewhat misleading, as many of China's exports involve importing components and assembling them, with rather limited value-added involved).

(Then again, the real estate bust should have reduced GDP growth quite sharply. So quite possibly, China's numbers are also too optimistic...)

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