Another tepid quarter for GDP
Do rising inventories suggest trouble ahead or a bullish optimism about future GDP growth?
BEA released its first estimates for third-quarter GDP yesterday. Headline growth was a disappointing, if not surprising, 2.0%.Skip to next paragraph
Donald B. Marron is director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. He previously served as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and as acting director of the Congressional Budget Office.
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Here’s my usual graph of how various components of the economy contributed to overall growth:
Housing fell back into the red, while non-residential structures eked out a small gain. Consumers continued to spend at a moderate pace (consumer spending grew at a 2.6% rate, thus adding 1.8 percentage points to growth). But the big stories were the continued boost from inventories, and the continued drag (in GDP-accounting terms) from imports.
The pessimistic take on inventories (see, for example, this tweet from Nouriel Roubini) is that the third quarter build up was unintentional, and thus is bearish for fourth quarter growth. The optimistic take, I suppose, is that maybe businesses see stronger demand ahead. But that feels rather, er, speculative.
For my usual set of caveats about the import figures, see my last post on the GDP numbers.
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