Q1 GDP up only 0.2%. Don’t freak out…but don’t chill out either.

April 29th, 2015 at 9:10 am

I’m about to start a full day meeting (my third this week…unfair to pajama bloggers!) so no time to do justice to this rich–though preliminary in terms of data–report.

The “don’t-freak-out” part relates to a) the fact that advanced data are subject to substantial revisions, b) first quarter seasonal factors may be depressing the number a bit, though I’d guess that’s a small part of the big deceleration, and most importantly c) as OTE’ers know, I tend to try to see through the monthly bips and bops by looking at year-over-year numbers, which have real GDP up 3%, an acceleration from last quarter’s 2.4% (see figure).

The “don’t-chill-out” part comes from something I’ve been writing a lot about lately: the growth-slowing impact of the strong dollar through the larger trade deficit. Net exports shaved a big 1.3 ppts off of this quarter’s real growth rate and 1 ppt of last quarter’s.

While I don’t believe the strong dollar is a function of currency management by our trading partners–it’s more about relative growth rates and central bank actions–I certainly would consider this a reminder of the growth downside of the strong dollar. It’s Buddha’s way of telling us that there needs to be enforceable currency disciplines in the TPP!


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