The Fourth Quarter GDP, Down 3.8 Percent

By January 30, 2009Economy

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce (news release and tables):

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 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP decreased 0.5 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-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 fourth quarter “preliminary” estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on February 27, 2009.

The decrease in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from exports, personal consumption expenditures, equipment and software, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by positive contributions from private inventory investment and federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

Most of the major components contributed to the much larger decrease in real GDP in the fourth quarter than in the third. The largest contributors were a downturn in exports and a much larger decrease in equipment and software. The most notable offset was a much larger decrease in imports.

Interesting that Marketplace Morning Report earlier today observed, “In the last three months of 2008, the American economy slammed into reverse. Most analysts expect that the country’s GDP actually shrank at an annual rate of more than 5 percent. If they’re right, that will make this the deepest economic downturn in this country in more than 25 years.”

And if they’re wrong?

In any case, bad enough…




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