Interest Rate Roundup

Friday, January 30, 2009

Q4 GDP comes in at -3.8%

The government just released its report on Q4 2008 Gross Domestic Product and the numbers came in better than expected, at -3.8% vs. forecasts for a reading of -5.5%. But that's still the worst decline going all the way back to 1982. The main price gauge contained in the report fell at a 0.1% annual pace, the biggest decline since 1954. A separate indicator that tracks the prices that consumers pay (excluding food and fuel) rose at a 0.6% pace. That's the smallest gain since 1962.

Personal consumption declined at a 3.5% rate, a slight improvement from -3.8% in the third quarter. But that is also the first time we've seen declines of 3% or more in back-to-back quarters since modern records were first collected in 1947.

Some other tidbits: Gross private investment collapsed at a 12.3% rate, compared with a 0.4% rise in Q3. Investment in residential structures plunged again (-23.6%), while investment in nonresidential structures shifted into negative territory for the first time (-1.8%) and investment in equipment and software imploded 27.8% -- a decline the likes of which we haven't seen in a half century. Government spending was in positive territory (+1.9%), but the strength was at the federal level. State and local spending dropped 0.5%.


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