BEA Leaves 3rd Quarter 2018 GDP Unchanged At 3.50%

The Numbers 

As a quick reminder, the classic definition of the GDP can be summarized with the following equation 

GDP = private consumption + gross private investment + government spending + (exports - imports)

or, as it is commonly expressed in algebraic shorthand 

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

In the new report the values for that equation (total dollars, percentage of the total GDP, and contribution to the final percentage growth number) are as follows

The quarter-to-quarter changes in the contributions that various components make to the overall GDP can be best understood from the table below, which breaks out the component contributions in more detail and over time. In the table below we have split the "C" component into goods and services, split the "I" component into fixed investment and inventories, separated exports from imports, added a line for the BEA's "Real Final Sales of Domestic Product" and listed the quarters in columns with the most current to the left 

Summary and Commentary 

The key number from this report is the BEA's own "bottom line" for the report, the "real final sales of domestic product," which is now reported to be down more than 4% from the prior quarter. This revision simply reinforced the prior report's story -- that the growth rate for consumer spending was weakening, with inventories growing as a consequence. Global economics and politics also are not helping, with trade now removing another 3% from the headline quarter over quarter. 

And it is difficult to get a handle on household incomes and savings, which have been recently revised to the point that it is hard to trust the numbers any more. 

In a sense this report was even more of the same, an economy clearly in transition from the happy news reported for 2Q-2018. 

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