By Yves Smith
26 June 2014
In case you managed to miss it, the GDP revision yesterday morning was stunningly bad. The contraction was 2.9%, revised downwards from 1%. This was both the biggest fall since the fourth quarter of 2008, when GDP fell by 8.9%, and the largest revision of the second GDP estimate since the inception of this report, in 1976.
The Washington Post gave a good overview:
But this recovery has a way of moving out of reach just when we think we’re getting close. The International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve have already pushed back their forecasts for liftoff from the grinding economy to next year. The new reading of first quarter GDP could move the ball even farther. A 3 percent annual growth rate is starting to seem like the promise made by the White Queen in “Alice in Wonderland”: Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.
Particularly disturbing in this revision was the downgrade in consumer spending. The American shopper was supposed to be the bright spot in this recovery, reliably trudging to the malls and filling their online shopping carts despite government shutdowns and wintry snowstorms. Consumer spending jumped 3.3 percent at the end of last year, and the data initially showed a similarly strong increase during the first quarter. Wednesday’s release showed the cracks in that pillar.