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Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:47 PM


Market Cheers Over Ugly GDP Report


The stock market and commodities are giddy today on the Third Quarter Advance GDP Estimate which increased at an annualized rate of 3.5%.

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 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009, (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP decreased 0.7 percent.

Motor vehicle output added 1.66 percentage points to the third-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.19 percentage point to the second-quarter change. Final sales of computers subtracted 0.11 percentage point from the third-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.04 percentage point from the second-quarter change.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 3.4 percent in the third quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 0.9 percent in the second. Durable goods increased 22.3 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 5.6 percent. The third-quarter increase largely reflected motor vehicle purchases under the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 (popularly called, “Cash for Clunkers” Program).

Real exports of goods and services increased 14.7 percent in the third quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 4.1 percent in the second. Real imports of goods and services increased 16.4 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 14.7 percent.

Nondurable goods increased 2.0 percent in the third quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 1.9 percent in the second. Services increased 1.2 percent, compared with an increase of 0.2 percent.

Real exports of goods and services increased 14.7 percent in the third quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 4.1 percent in the second. Real imports of goods and services increased 16.4 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 14.7 percent.

Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 7.9 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 11.4 percent in the second. National defense increased 8.4 percent, compared with an increase of 14.0 percent. Nondefense increased 6.8 percent, compared with an increase of 6.1 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 1.1 percent, in contrast to an increase of 3.9 percent.

The change in real private inventories added 0.94 percentage point to the third-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 1.42 percentage points from the second-quarter change. Private businesses decreased inventories $130.8 billion in the third quarter, following decreases of $160.2 billion in the second quarter and $113.9 billion in the first.

Real final sales of domestic product -- GDP less change in private inventories -- increased 2.5 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 0.7 percent in the second.

Disposition of personal income

Current-dollar personal income decreased $15.5 billion (0.5 percent) in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of $19.1 billion (0.6 percent) in the second.

Personal current taxes increased $4.8 billion in the third quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $119.1 billion in the second. The quarterly pattern of taxes reflected a much smaller decrease in federal withheld income taxes in the third quarter, based on the quarterly pattern of wages and salaries and a leveling off of the effects on withholding rates from the Making Work Pay Credit provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (For more information, see the Technical Note.)

Disposable personal income decreased $20.4 billion (0.7 percent) in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of $138.2 billion (5.2 percent) in the second. Real disposable personal income decreased 3.4 percent, in contrast to an increase of 3.8 percent.

Personal outlays increased $148.2 billion (5.8 percent) in the third quarter, compared with an increase of $8.2 billion (0.3 percent) in the second. Personal saving -- disposable personal income less personal outlays -- was $364.6 billion in the third quarter, compared with $533.1 billion in the second.

The personal saving rate -- saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 3.3 percent in the third quarter, compared with 4.9 percent in the second.
Cheering Over Ugly Report

Today the market is cheering over what is actually an ugly report.

A misguided Cash-for-Clunkers added a one-time contribution of 1.66 percentage points to GDP. Auto sales have since collapsed so all the program did is move some demand forward.

Government spending increased at 7.9 percent in the third quarter which is certainly nothing to cheer about.

Personal income decreased $15.5 billion (0.5 percent), while real disposable personal income decreased 3.4 percent, in contrast to an increase of 3.8 percent last quarter. Those are horrible numbers.

The savings rate is down, which no doubt has misguided economists cheering, but people spending more than they make is one of the things that got us into trouble.

The only bright spot I can find is exports. However, even there we must not get too excited as imports rose much more.

Markets advance on surprising GDP growth

Reuters is reporting Markets advance on surprising GDP growth
U.S. stocks rallied on Thursday following four losing sessions as data showed the U.S. economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter after more than a year of contraction.

The first estimate of U.S. gross domestic product showed the economy expanded at a 3.5 percent annual rate, unofficially ending the worst recession in 70 years. A Reuters poll last week found economists looking for a 3.3 percent gain, although some recent data led many to trim forecasts this week.

"The data suggests that we're going to see very positive GDP for at least the next two or three quarters," said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust Company in Philadelphia. "I don't see much chance for negative territory for at least a year."
I am struggling to understand what is surprising other than how bad this all looks once you break down the numbers. The government sloshed trillions around and yet disposable income is down, jobs are horrendously weak, and the only reason GDP rose is wasteful government spending, cash-for-clunkers and extremely unaffordable housing tax credits whose effect is soon going to start diminishing even though the program was just extended.

I see plenty of chances for negative territory or at least extremely anemic growth starting in the second quarter of 2010, if indeed not the first quarter.

Let's see what Christmas brings. I am expecting far weaker numbers than most. In the meantime, let's party even if only for a day or two. Reality is likely to return soon.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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