GDP came in yesterday down 1%, much worse than most economists had been expecting. Overall, the decline was mostly due to a drop in private Investment Spending, declining about 12% from the prior quarter (annualized basis).
Here’s how GDP has done over the past 11 economic recoveries.
Overall, the current recovery, began in July 2009, is the worst of the past 11, with GDP only up about 10% since the trough. The 2002 recovery was up almost 40% more (14%) over the same period, while the long 1991 recovery was up over 15% at this point.
Further details on what’s happened to the components of GDP follow.
Personal Consumption recovery
Personal Consumption (i.e. consumer and business spending), considered the bastion of American economic dominance, is a large driver behind the poor performance of GDP, up about 11% since the trough in 2009. Over the same time frame, Personal Consumption had gained over 15% during the 2002 recovery, was up 16% during the 1991 recovery, 19% during the 1975 recovery, gained 24% in the 1983 recovery, and was up 28% during the 1961 recovery.
Unless this recovery takes on an ever-greater duration and depth than the 1991 recovery, it’s likely the ground will never be made up.
In terms of the details behind the three major components of Personal Consumption, the weakness is due to Non-durable Goods and Services, while Durable Goods (i.e. refrigerators and other items that last a while) has been relatively decent. Apparently, individuals focused more on the needed staples of life rather than the items that expire quickly. Here’s a look at the comparison.
Moving on, the following to Investment. The recovery according to Investment has been relatively average, much better than the 2002 recovery, but nowhere near as strong as the 1961 or 1975 recovery. Up until the most recent quarter, the 2009 recovery had been the best Investment recovery 30 years. That changed with the very poor first quarter 2014 numbers; the 1983 recovery is now slightly ahead of where the 2009 Investment GDP component now stands.
The details behind the Investment numbers may make some money managers nervous. Overall, the Nonresidential recovery is relatively humming along as it did in the 2002 recovery, actually about 4% higher.
The residential component is much like the 2002 recovery as well, with the 2009 recovery about 22% above where it was in 2009 while the 2002 recovery was only about 17% above where it was over the same period.
What happened right about the five year mark is what’s concerning. The residential sector tanked. Now, is it 2007? No, but it does present a cautionary note.
The next major component of GDP is Government spending. As one of the few positive signs of today’s GDP report, Government spending is still declining, with the 2009 recovery as the best recovery to date for lower cost government services. Hurray for the children who have a little less debt to pay off, for kids that want jobs in the future, and for American competitiveness.
The last component of GDP – Net Exports.
Overall, the Exports GDP component has had a weak recovery at this point, the worst in the past 60 years, up just 28% since the 2009 trough.
Interestingly, Imports are also on the weak recovery track, up just 25% since the trough.
Overall, in comparing the current economic recovery to historical experience, the almost five-year recovery is the worst in the past 60 years.