Inventories And Low Deflator Boost Low GDP Estimate

BEA Estimates 4th Quarter 2016 GDP at 1.87%

In their first (preliminary) estimate of the US GDP for the fourth quarter of 2016, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the US economic growth rate was +1.87%, down by nearly half (-1.66%) from the prior quarter.

The quarter to quarter decline in the headline growth rate came from a number of sources: the growth of consumer spending on services was more than halved (down -0.68%), exports went into contraction (off a dramatic -1.69%) and imports were down yet another -0.86%. Partially offsetting those declines were upticks in consumer spending on goods (up +0.34%), and increases in the growth rate for commercial fixed investment (+0.65%) and inventories (+0.51%). 

The BEA's "bottom line" (their "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product", which excludes the growing inventories) recorded a sub 1% growth rate (+0.87%), down over 2% (-2.17%) from 3Q-2016. 

Real annualized household disposable income was reported to have grown by $177 quarter-to-quarter, to an annualized $39,405 (in 2009 dollars). The household savings rate decreased by -0.2% to 5.6%. 

For the fourth quarter the BEA assumed an effective annualized deflator of 2.12%. During the same quarter (October 2016 through December 2016) the inflation recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their CPI-U index was 3.41%. Under estimating inflation results in correspondingly over optimistic growth rates, and if the BEA's "nominal" data was deflated using CPI-U inflation information the headline growth number would have been much lower, at a +0.62% annualized growth rate. 

Among the notable items in the report :

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