Donnerstag, 5. März 2009

US GDP growth

According to offical data, Q4 US GDP growth is supposed to be 1.1 % compared to Q4 2007 (that's after downward revision of prelim Q4 data - it used to be 1.3 %).

As I've written before, I find that number very hard to believe: Considering the downright apocalyptic mood and the sharp cutbacks in investment and consumer spending, can it really be that the economy was still 1.1 % larger than in the same quarter one year before?

Here's another snippet that adds to my doubts: According to Bloomberg, total US employment declined 2.6 % from Dec 2007 to Jan 2009. So GDP rose 1.1 % while employment declined 2.6 %? Doesn't labor productivity tend to go down in a sharp downturn, because company's can't fire people fast enough? Surely a productivity increase of 3.7 % is weird in a sharp downturn.

Unless the lost jobs are all in the low-productivity sector. Construction jobs might be. But financial services and car workers weren't, so that hypothesis is not particularly convincing either.

Edit / Update:

Problem solved. It appears I used the wrong data. 1.1 % GDP growth was not Q4 yoy, but full year 2008 yoy. According to The Economist, Q4 yoy was -0.8 % instead. Yes, that makes a lot more sense.

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