Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 (table 1), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2019, real GDP increased 2.1 percent.
The decrease in real GDP in the first quarter reflected negative contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, and private inventory investment that were partly offset by positive contributions from residential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased (table 2).
The decrease in PCE reflected decreases in services, led by health care, and goods, led by motor vehicles and parts. The decrease in nonresidential fixed investment primarily reflected a decrease in equipment, led by transportation equipment. The decrease in exports primarily reflected a decrease in services, led by travel.
The GDP growth for Q2 is estimated to be significantly worse. These numbers don’t mean much to us as they do not reflect an open economy. The question is how much structural damage was done the economy long-term prospects and how long will it take for to it to get up in running. We don’t see any clarity until fall and winter.