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posted on 28 July 2017

Advance Estimate 2Q2017 GDP Quarter-over-Quarter Growth at 2.6 Percent.

Written by Steven Hansen

The advance estimate of first quarter 2017 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a positive 2.6 %. This growth is better than the previous quarter's downwardly revised 1.2 % if one looks at quarter-over-quarter headline growth.Year-over-year growth improved modestly so one could say economic growth was better.

Analyst Opinion of GDP

The consumer spending improved, but the real improvement came from using a lower inflation deflator. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP - but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter.

The market expected (from Bloomberg / Econoday):

Seasonally Adjusted Quarter-over-Quarter Change at annual rate Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Real GDP 2.2 % to 2.9 % 2.6 % +2.6 %
GDP price index 1.0 % to 1.8 % 1.2 % +1.0 %
Real Consumer Spending - Q/Q change 2.2 % to 2.9 % 2.8 % +2.8 %

Consider:

  • This advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision. (See caveats below.) Please note that historically advance estimates have turned out to be little more than wild guesses.
  • Headline GDP is calculated by annualizing one quarter's data against the previous quarters data. A better method would be to look at growth compared to the same quarter one year ago. For 2Q2017, the year-over-year growth is now 2.1 % - up marginally from 1Q2017's now revised 2.0 % year-over-year growth. So one might say that the rate of GDP growth improved from the previous quarter.

Real GDP Expressed As Year-over-Year Change

The same report also provides Gross Domestic Income which in theory should equal Gross Domestic Product. Some have argued the discrepancy is due to misclassification of capital gains as ordinary income - but whatever the reason, there are differences.

Real GDP (blue line) Vs. Real GDI (red line) Expressed As Year-over-Year Change

Real GDP is inflation adjusted and annualized - and Real GDP per capita remains on a general upward trend.

Real GDP per Capita

The table below compares the previous quarter estimate of GDP (Table 1.1.2) with the advance estimate this quarter which shows:

  • consumption for goods and services improved adding 0.9% to GDP.
  • trade balance was unchanged
  • inventory change had little affect on GDP
  • fixed investment growth improved
  • federal spending improved adding 0.1 % from GDP

The following is Table 1.1.2 before the annual revision: [click to enlarge]

What the BEA says about this advance estimate:

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

Inflation continues to moderate as the "deflator" which adjusts the current value GDP to a "real" comparable value continues to moderate. The following compares the GDP deflator to the Consumer Price Index:

Caveats on the Use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

GDP is market value of all final goods and services produced within the USA where money is used in the transaction - and it is expressed as an annualized number. GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports), or GDP = C + I + G + (X - M). GDP counts monetary expenditures. It is designed to count value added so that goods are not counted over and over as they move through the manufacture - wholesale - retail chain.

The vernacular relating to the different GDP releases:

"Advance" estimates, based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency, are released near the end of the first month after the end of the quarter; as more detailed and more comprehensive data become available, "second" and "third" estimates are released near the end of the second and third months, respectively. The "latest" estimates reflect the results of both annual and comprehensive revisions.

Consider that GDP includes the costs of suing your neighbor or McDonald's for hot coffee spilled in your crotch, plastic surgery or cancer treatment, buying a new aircraft carrier for the military, or even the replacement of your house if it burns down - yet little of these activities is real economic growth.

GDP does not include include home costs (other than the new home purchase price even though mortgaged up the kazoo), interest rates, bank charges, or the money spent buying anything used.

It does not measure wealth, disposable income, or employment.

In short, GDP does not measure the change of the economic environment for Joe Sixpack in 1970, and Joe Sixpack's kid, yet pundits continuously compare GDP across time periods.

Although there always will be some correlation between all economic pulse points, GDP does not measure the economic elements that directly impact the quality of life of its citizens.



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