The US economy slowed in the first quarter of 2014 to levels barely above flat growth. The list of excuses generally had a common theme in the cold, snowy weather. The report had great timing apparently as it was reported that China is poised to overtake the US as the largest economy. The Economic Collapse is right on schedule.
Growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and was down from a 2.6 percent rate in the previous quarter.
Many economists said the government’s first estimate of growth in the January-March quarter was skewed by weak figures early in the quarter. They noted that several sectors — from retail sales to manufacturing output — rebounded in March. That strength should provide momentum for the rest of the year.
And on Friday, economists expect the government to report a solid 200,000-plus job gain for April.
“While quarter one was weak, many measures of sentiment and output improved in March and April, suggesting that the quarter ended better than it began,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief investment strategist at global financial services firm BTIG.
Still, the anemic growth last quarter is surely a topic for discussion at the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, which ends Wednesday afternoon. No major changes are expected in a statement the Fed will release. But it will likely announce a fourth reduction in its monthly bond purchases because of the gains the economy has been making. The Fed’s bond purchases have been intended to keep long-term loan rates low.
In its report Wednesday, the government said consumer spending grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter. But that gain was dominated by a 4.4 percent rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills. Spending on goods barely rose. Also dampening growth were a drop in business investment, a rise in the trade deficit and a fall in housing construction.
The scant 0.1 percent growth rate in the gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, was well below the 1.1 percent rise economists had predicted. The last time a quarterly growth rate was so slow was in the final three months of 2012, when it was also 0.1 percent.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Marcroeconomics, said he expects the economy’s growth to rebound to a 3 percent annual rate in the current April-June quarter. Other economists have made similar forecasts.
A variety of factors held back first-quarter growth. Business investment fell at a 2.1 percent rate, with spending on equipment plunging at a 5.5 percent annual rate. Residential construction fell at a 5.7 percent rate. Housing was hit by winter weather and by other factors such as higher home prices and a shortage of available houses.
A widening of the trade deficit, thanks to a sharp fall in exports, shaved growth by 0.8 percentage point in the first quarter. Businesses also slowed their restocking, with a slowdown in inventory rebuilding reducing growth by nearly 0.6 percentage point.
Also holding back growth: A cutback in spending by state and local governments. That pullback offset a rebound in federal activity after the 16-day partial government shutdown last year.
— WTFRLY.com (@WTFRLY) April 30, 2014
China to be the new global economic leader
Even though China is notorious for reporting false economic data (including the latest extreme set of phony figures), a World Bank estimate noted that China is on its way to becoming the world’s largest economy.
The US is on the brink of losing its status as the world’s largest economy, and is likely to slip behind China this year, sooner than widely anticipated, according to the world’s leading statistical agencies.
The US has been the global leader since overtaking the UK in 1872. Most economists previously thought China would pull ahead in 2019.
The figures, compiled by the International Comparison Program hosted by the World Bank, are the most authoritative estimates of what money can buy in different countries and are used by most public and private sector organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund. This is the first time they have been updated since 2005.
After extensive research on the prices of goods and services, the ICP concluded that money goes further in poorer countries than it previously thought, prompting it to increase the relative size of emerging market economies.
The more alarming number? Without the spike in healthcare spending, this GDP print would have been negative.
Here is a shocker: for all the damnation Obamacare, which according to poll after poll is loathed by a majority of the US population, has gotten if it wasn’t for the (government-mandated) spending surge resulting from Obamacare, which resulted in the biggest jump in Healthcare Services spending in the past quarter in history and added 1.1% to GDP …
… real Q1 GDP (in chained 2009 dollars), which rose only $4.3 billion sequentially to $15,947 billion, would have been a negative 1.0%!
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