Friday, June 27, 2014

The First Quarter GDP Contraction was Less Severe than you Think



As discussed in an earlier post, my co-authors and I believe that our "GDPplus," obtained by optimally blending the noisy expenditure- and income-side GDP estimates, provides a superior U.S. GDP measure. (Check it out online; the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia now calculates and reports it.) A few days ago we revised and re-posted the working paper on which it's based (Aruoba, Diebold, Nalewaik, Schorfheide, and Song, "Improving GDP Measurement: A Measurement Error Perspective," Manuscript, University of Maryland, Federal Reserve Board and University of Pennsylvania, Revised June 2014).

It's important to note that GDPplus is not simply a convex combination of the expenditure- and income-side estimates; rather, it is produced via the Kalman filter, which averages optimally over both space and time. Hence, although GDPplus is usually between the expenditure- and income-side estimates, it need not be. Presently we're in just such a situation, as shown in the graph below. 2014Q1 real growth as measured by GDPplus (in red) is well above both of the corresponding expenditure- and income-side GDP growth estimates (in black), which are almost identical. 
Plot of GDPplus
Source:  FRB Philadelphia