Highlights from report with Q1 U.S. GDP down 6.1%

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Real U.S. GDP declined at an annualized 6.1% in the first quarter (Jan-Mar) of 2009. This almost exactly matches the 6.3% decline in Q4 and is a MUCH larger decline than expected. While I have not crunched all the numbers yet, I am providing snippets of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) below.

I should note that the major difference to consensus here probably was the inventory purge, a subject I have written about previously (see my post “The Fake Recovery“). When this purge ends/or if a build begins, it will make subsequent numbers larger (a qtr-to-qtr comparison to a negative number is favorable).

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Other tidbits: consumption is way up compared to Q4. Nonresidential housing is cratering. Trade is collapsing too. It also seems the consumer price deflation threat is over for now.

Emphasis is added below:

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Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — decreased at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP decreased 6.3 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter “advance” estimates are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 4). The first-quarter “preliminary” estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on May 29, 2009.

The decrease in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from exports, private inventory investment, equipment and software, nonresidential structures, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a positive contribution from personal consumption expenditures (PCE). Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The slightly smaller decrease in real GDP in the first quarter than in the fourth reflected an upturn in PCE for durable and nondurable goods and a larger decrease in imports that were mostly offset by larger decreases in private inventory investment and in nonresidential structures and a downturn in federal government spending.

Motor vehicle output subtracted 1.36 percentage points from the first-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 2.01 percentage points from the fourth-quarter change. Final sales of computers added 0.05 percentage point to the first-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.02 percentage point from the fourth-quarter change.

FOOTNOTE.–Quarterly estimates are expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, unless otherwise specified. Quarter-to-quarter dollar changes are differences between these published estimates.
Percent changes are calculated from unrounded data and are annualized. “Real” estimates are in chained (2000) dollars. Price indexes are chain-type measures…

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, decreased 1.0 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 3.9 percent in the fourth. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.2 percent in the fourth. The federal pay raise for civilian and military personnel added 0.3 percentage point to the change in the first quarter gross domestic purchases price index.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 2.2 percent in the first quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 4.3 percent in the fourth. Durable goods increased 9.4 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 22.1 percent. Nondurable goods increased 1.3 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 9.4 percent. Services increased 1.5 percent, the same increase as in the fourth.

Real nonresidential fixed investment decreased 37.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 21.7 percent in the fourth. Nonresidential structures decreased 44.2 percent, compared with a decrease of 9.4 percent. Equipment and software decreased 33.8 percent, compared with a decrease of 28.1 percent. Real residential fixed investment decreased 38.0 percent, compared with a decrease of 22.8 percent.

Real exports of goods and services decreased 30.0 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 23.6 percent in the fourth. Real imports of goods and services decreased 34.1 percent, compared with a decrease of 17.5 percent.

Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 4.0 percent in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 7.0 percent in the fourth. National defense decreased 6.4 percent, in contrast to an increase of 3.4 percent. Nondefense increased 1.3 percent, compared with an increase of 15.3 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 3.9 percent, compared with a decrease of 2.0 percent.

The real change in private inventories subtracted 2.79 percentage points from the first-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.11 percentage point from the fourth-quarter change. Private businesses decreased inventories $103.7 billion in the first quarter, following decreases of $25.8 billion in the fourth quarter and $29.6 billion in the third.

Real final sales of domestic product — GDP less change in private inventories — decreased 3.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 6.2 percent in the fourth.

Source
Gross Domestic Product: First Quarter 2009 (Advance) Report – BEA website

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