GDP better thx to defense spending

GDP in Q3 rose 2.0%, better than expectations of 1.8% and an improvement from the 1.3% rise in Q2. Nominal GDP was up by 4.8%, well above the estimate of 3.9% as the Price Deflator was up by 2.8%, the 2nd most gain since Q3 ’08 and higher than the forecast of 2.1%. Personal Spending was up by 2%, actually a touch less than expected. Gross Private Investment was up by .5%, below the gain seen in Q2 as spending on equipment and software was flat after solid gains in previous quarters. Residential construction picked up some of that slack with a 14.4% rise. Trade was a modest drag as exports fell 1.6% while imports were lower by just .2%. Federal Government spending looks like the main driver of the better than expected headline print as it rose by 3.7% led by a 13% gain in defense spending. Spending at the state and local level fell by a .1%. Inventories were a tiny drag as they rose less than the gain seen in Q2. Real final sales, taking out the inventory influence, rose by 2.1% vs 1.7% in Q2 and 2.4% in Q1. Bottom line, 2% growth is about in line with the average seen over the past three years of 2.1% but the deceleration in trend is evident as the economy grew 2.4% in ’10, 1.8% in ’11 and averaging 1.8% in ’12. Mathematically, GDP should grow at population growth + productivity. Population is growing by 1% and productivity just 1% vs the 30 yr average productivity growth of 2.2%. We need more savings and investment for this, not more borrowing and spending pushed by gov’t monetary and fiscal policy.

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