Monday, June 6, 2016

Unseasonal Adjustments

The first quarter GDP number has been revised upward, but it's still only at 0.8 percent growth. While that's down sharply from the 2.4 percent pace of the last two years, some economists say it reflects something else. They claim the government's method of seasonally adjusting its estimates manages to underestimate first-quarter growth every year.

In fact, in six of the past ten years, the first quarter has been reported as the slowest-growing quarter of the year. Over the course of that decade, first quarter GDP growth has averaged a drop of 0.3 percent, while the second quarter has averaged growth of 2.4 percent.

If the economists are right about the current quarter, this means second-quarter growth should be 3 percent or better, as the other side of the error in seasonal adjustment reveals itself. The result will average out to an annual rate around 2 percent, and the economy will be back into its 2 percent to 2.5 percent range for the year,

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