I missed posting this a few days ago. Bureau of Economic Analysis says first revision of the GDP estimate for 1st quarter 2011 was essentially unchanged from the initial “flash” estimate provided at the end of April. The U.S. economy grew at approx. 1.8% annual rate.
While the overall growth rate was unchanged, there was some shuffling among the categories. The revised numbers indicate that consumption spending (C) was weaker than initially thought, accounting for only 1.53 points of GDP’s 1.8 percent growth rate as opposed to the original 1.91.
Offsetting this lower estimate of Consumption spending was a larger than originally thought increase in Inventories (part of I, Investment spending).
This is not a good sign. It says that consumers are slowing their spending more and that as a result firms ended the quarter with more inventory than expected. That tends to signal an economy slowing more than businesses had expected.
There’s a lot of headwinds and “aftershocks” that are hitting the economy now. Among them:
- continued high oil and gas prices
- slowed production and sales in the auto industry due to supply chain bottlenecks from the Japanese nuclear meltdown, earthquake, and tsunami
- continuing cuts in government spending at all levels. State and local governments in particular are cutting a lot. Congress and the President have evidently decided this year that it’s more important to cut government spending and borrowing (despite less than 3% interest rates) no matter how much it slows the economy and raises unemployment. Together state, local, and federal government cuts in spending reduced GDP growth rate by 1.09 points. In other words, if we had simply continued spending at the existing rate instead of cutting, we could have had at least a 2.9% GDP growth rate.
- Europe is having a lot of difficulties with their ill-designed monetary union and their ill-advised austerity policies. Europe is slowing dramatically and some countries are falling back into recession. Not good for overall global growth or U.S. exports.
- China is struggling to contain it’s inflation and may need to slow down it’s growth rate.
- and most significant, unemployment and wages continue to play out a depression for workers.