Can We Rely on Inventory Cycle for Recovery?

I read a very interesting letter to editor by Professor Eileen Appelbaum today. She argued that we cannot rely on the inventory cycle to lead us to recovery. She argued in the past we may have been able to rely on inventory cycle because increased demand caused by public and private demand would increase output and employment but not this time:

Unfortunately, this time around, things are likely to be very different. The US no longer manufactures most of the goods it needs to replace liquidated inventories, so will need to turn to imports to restock its shelves. Any gains from a rebound in inventories will be largely offset by the negative effects on gross domestic product from an increase in imports.

Japan's Annual GDP - 12.7% Contraction

Japan's Economy Shrinks by 12.7% is reported by Bloomberg.

Japans exports in one quarter dropped 13.9%. Their quarterly GDP was 3.3% contraction and exports accounted for 3% of that drop.

Japan’s economy shrank at an annual 12.7 percent pace last quarter, the most since the 1974 oil shock, as recessions in the U.S. and Europe triggered a record drop in exports.

GDP drops 3.8%, Autos 2.04% of that

GDP statistics were released today and it ain't pretty.

From Bureau of Economic Analysis:

GDP -3.8% 4th Quarter 2008

U.S. exports are way down, imports are also.

Inventory build up reduced the decline of GDP from -5.1% to 3.8%.

Autos was 2.04% of the GDP drop. These means nobody is buying cars and trucks!

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- decreased at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP decreased 0.5 percent.

5.5% GDP Contraction for Q4, Analysts Predict

The actual numbers from the Commerce Department are not out until January 30th. Yet both Bloomberg and Marketwatch are reporting a 5.5% annual rate drop in GDP for Q4.

Gross domestic product contracted at a 5.5 percent annual rate from October through December, the biggest drop since 1982, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of Commerce Department figures due Jan. 30.

Real economic activity fell off a cliff during the fourth quarter, producing a sharp drop in employment, output and spending," wrote economists at Wachovia.
And the worst part is that it's not over. Economists expect another huge decline in the first quarter, with a smaller contraction in the second quarter

Revised GDP, Decline to 0.5%

GDP has been revised downward to 0.5% for Q3, 2008. From the BEA:

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- decreased at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2008, (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to preliminary estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.8 percent.

Looks like they are still blaming Hurricane Ike. The details on what were the contributing factors is in the link. One thing to note is this includes government spending increases.

Noted is this is the fastest rate of GDP decline in 28 years.

Housing prices declined a whopping 17.5% from one year ago.

Economy Contracts

As expected, GDP falls 0.3% in the 3rd quarter, but that's a little better than what was forecast, a 0.5% contraction.

GDP has risen 0.8% in the past year.
Economists expect the economy to contract in the final three months of this year and the first three months of 2009, with the nation's unemployment rate pegged to rise near the 8% mark. It would be the longest contraction since 1975.

What is more subtle, the focus is on consumer confidence and spending, in the headlines and analysts. Once again, not on production, which is on life-support.

GDP Exceeds Estimates - But Wait, Some Economists calling it the Last Hurrah

Just when you think the respite is upon us, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says:

Today's GDP report is kind of the last hurrah for the U.S. economy, said at a press conference today. ``We've begun the process of slipping into a good old-fashioned recession -- Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce