GDP Q4 Second Estimate At 2.4%, Down From The 3.2% Advance Estimate

Includes: DIA, IWM, QQQ, SPY
by: Doug Short

The Second Estimate for Q4 GDP, to one decimal, came in at 2.4 percent, down from 3.2 percent in the Advance Estimate. The GDP deflator used to calculate real (inflation-adjusted) GDP rose to 1.5 percent from 1.3 percent in the Advance Estimate. had forecast 2.5 percent for today's GDP estimate and the deflator to remain unchanged.

Here is an excerpt from the Bureau of Economic Analysis news release:

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 4.1 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the "advance" estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 3.2 percent. With this second estimate for the fourth quarter, an increase in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) was smaller than previously estimated (see "Revisions" on page 3).

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, and private inventory investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from federal government spending, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected a deceleration in private inventory investment, a larger decrease in federal government spending, and downturns in residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending that were partly offset by accelerations in exports, in PCE, and in nonresidential fixed investment and a deceleration in imports. [Full Release]

Here is a look at GDP since Q2 1947 together with the real (inflation-adjusted) S&P Composite. The start date is when the BEA began reporting GDP on a quarterly basis. Prior to 1947, GDP was reported annually. To be more precise, what the lower half of the chart shows is the percent change from the preceding period in Real (inflation-adjusted) Gross Domestic Product. I've also included recessions, which are determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Here is a close-up of GDP alone with a line to illustrate the 3.3 average (arithmetic mean) for the quarterly series since the 1947. I've also plotted the 10-year moving average, currently at 1.7. The current GDP is now just below the half-way point between its 10-year moving average and its long-term average.

Here is the same chart with a linear regression that illustrates the gradual decline in GDP over this time frame.

Perhaps the most telling representation of slowing growth in the US economy is the year-over-year rate of change. The latest data point at 2.53 percent is off its interim low of 1.32 percent in Q1 of last year.

And for a bit of political trivia, here is a look at GDP by party in control of the White House and Congress.

In summary, the Q4 GDP Second Estimate of 2.4 percent was fractionally lower than most forecasts. We will get the final estimate for Q4 GDP (aside from annual revisions) on March 27th.