Friday, August 2, 2013

White House: Revised Numbers Show Economy Contracted in First Quarter 2011 [TWS]

    Wednesday, Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, wrote on the White House blog about revisions to economic statistics by the Bureau of Economic Analysis going all the way back to 1929.  Krueger largely interpreted the news as good, noting that the revisions "showed that the recovery from the Great Recession has been slightly faster than previously reported." However, one revision is going to put a crimp in the White House's economic talking points: economic growth has not been uninterrupted since the end of the Great Recession [emphasis added]:
While the annual rate of real GDP growth over the 83 years since 1929 was revised up just 0.1 percentage point to 3.3%, a handful of recent quarters were subject to large revisions. For example, real GDP growth in 2011:Q1, which previously had been reported at 0.1% at an annual rate, was revised down to -1.3%. The earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan in March 2011 disrupted critical supply chains, likely subtracting from growth in that quarter. In contrast, real GDP growth in 2010:Q2 and 2012:Q1 were both revised up by 1.7 percentage points to annualized rates of 3.9% and 3.7%, respectively.
    Just three months ago when the first quarter 2013 economic results were released, Krueger led off his blog post with the following:
Today’s report indicates that the economy posted its fifteenth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    Although today's report included a 1.7% increase in the economy in the second quarter of 2013, the revised first quarter 2011 decline means that the number of quarters of positive economic growth must be reset to nine.  Although Krueger has often used the straight quarter of positive economic growth phrase in the past, the line is missing from this quarter's report.

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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