Strong 4th quarter GDP growth will ebb in 201001/14/2010 by Jim Haughey
Higher spending in the US economy is boosting the demand for space and facilities. But this will have to persist for several quarters until surplus spaced and facilities are absorbed. Space and facility stocks are not expected to be back in balance until late summer at the earliest.
3rd quarter GDP growth was initially reported to be 3.5% then revised down to 2.4% when more complete data showed that inventory absorption was less than first estimated. Inventories expanded 0.4% in both October and November and are expected to rise at a somewhat slower pace in December. Wholesalers boosted end of November inventory 1.5%, manufacturers 0.2% and retailers cut inventories 0.2%. Nonetheless, retail inventories are the leanest so the December cut will have to be reversed in the next few months. The overall inventory/sales ratio fell to 1.28, just marginally above the long term trend.
Do not misinterpret the 5% GDP growth announcement. Trend economic growth remains in the 2% plus range. The monthly employment report will get an unrelated distortion this spring which could also be misinterpreted as a signal that economic growth have jumped to the above average level. The Census Bureau will hire hundreds of thousands of part-time, low wage workers to convince their neighbors to fill out the 2010 census forms. This will overstate the strength of the labor market for 3-4 months. A large share of the people hired are not looking for full time jobs so the plight of those who need a full time jobs to keep their home and maintain consumption will be helped very little by the census hiring.