Economy shrank by 2.9% in 1st quarter

Bloomberg is reporting that the first quarter GDP - first pegged at shrinking by 1% - has been revised downward, showing an economy contracting at a 2.9% rate.

It's the lowest its been in 5 years and the "biggest downward revision from the agency’s second GDP estimate since records began in 1976."

Heckuva job, Barry.

Consumers returned to stores and car dealerships, companies placed more orders for equipment and manufacturing picked up as temperatures warmed, indicating the early-year setback was temporary. Combined with more job gains, such data underscore the view of Federal Reserve policy makers that the economy is improving and in less need of monetary stimulus.

The first-quarter slump is “not really reflective of fundamentals,” said Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in New York and the best forecaster of GDP in the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “For the second quarter, we’ll see some weather rebound and a return to more normal activity after that long winter.”

You would hope. The problem is, other indicators are giving a mixed message about the current state of the economy:

Another report showed orders for business equipment climbed in May, showing corporate investment is helping revive the economy after the slump at the start of the year. Bookings for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft rose 0.7 percent after a 1.1 percent drop in April, according to the Commerce Department.

Demand for all durable goods -- items meant to last at least three years -- decreased 1 percent, reflecting declines in the volatile transportation and defense categories.

Stock-index futures declined after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropping 0.2 percent to 1,939.1 at 8:55 a.m. in New York.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 1.8 percent drop in first-quarter GDP, according to the median of 76 forecasts. Estimates ranged from declines of 0.5 percent to 2.4 percent. The economy expanded at a 2.6 percent pace in the final three months of 2013.

This marked the last of three readings for the quarter. The advance estimate of second-quarter GDP is scheduled for July 30.

 Growth has been so anemic, that the current oil shock had better pass soon or we're going to be in trouble again. Bloomberg projects growth of 3.5% in the second quarter, but you have to wonder with oil prices on the rise again if things will be that rosy.

We are not likely to be falling into another recession. Technically, you need three quarters of negative growth before a recession becomes "official." But about half the country still thinks we're in the recession that was supposed to have ended in 2009. So in the end, it hardly matters what's "official" or not about the state of the economy. For many of us, it still stinks.

 

Bloomberg is reporting that the first quarter GDP - first pegged at shrinking by 1% - has been revised downward, showing an economy contracting at a 2.9% rate.

It's the lowest its been in 5 years and the "biggest downward revision from the agency’s second GDP estimate since records began in 1976."

Heckuva job, Barry.

Consumers returned to stores and car dealerships, companies placed more orders for equipment and manufacturing picked up as temperatures warmed, indicating the early-year setback was temporary. Combined with more job gains, such data underscore the view of Federal Reserve policy makers that the economy is improving and in less need of monetary stimulus.

The first-quarter slump is “not really reflective of fundamentals,” said Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in New York and the best forecaster of GDP in the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “For the second quarter, we’ll see some weather rebound and a return to more normal activity after that long winter.”

You would hope. The problem is, other indicators are giving a mixed message about the current state of the economy:

Another report showed orders for business equipment climbed in May, showing corporate investment is helping revive the economy after the slump at the start of the year. Bookings for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft rose 0.7 percent after a 1.1 percent drop in April, according to the Commerce Department.

Demand for all durable goods -- items meant to last at least three years -- decreased 1 percent, reflecting declines in the volatile transportation and defense categories.

Stock-index futures declined after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropping 0.2 percent to 1,939.1 at 8:55 a.m. in New York.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 1.8 percent drop in first-quarter GDP, according to the median of 76 forecasts. Estimates ranged from declines of 0.5 percent to 2.4 percent. The economy expanded at a 2.6 percent pace in the final three months of 2013.

This marked the last of three readings for the quarter. The advance estimate of second-quarter GDP is scheduled for July 30.

 Growth has been so anemic, that the current oil shock had better pass soon or we're going to be in trouble again. Bloomberg projects growth of 3.5% in the second quarter, but you have to wonder with oil prices on the rise again if things will be that rosy.

We are not likely to be falling into another recession. Technically, you need three quarters of negative growth before a recession becomes "official." But about half the country still thinks we're in the recession that was supposed to have ended in 2009. So in the end, it hardly matters what's "official" or not about the state of the economy. For many of us, it still stinks.