Friday, June 28, 2013

28/6/2013: Underlying dynamics in Irish GDP & GNP: Q1 2013

Q1 2013 National Accounts do not make for a pleasant reading. The implications from the business cycle perspective are pretty clear - we are in a continued (3rd quarter in a row) recession, which constitutes the fourth 'dip' since the onset of the Great Recession. The post summarising that evidence is linked here.

In this post, let's take a look at the GDP and GNP in constant prices.

On seasonally-adjusted basis (removing seasonal volatility),

  • GDP at constant factor cost (national output ex-taxes and subsidies) fell 0.65% q/q in Q1 2013, having contracted 0.12% q/q in previous quarter. On an annual basis, the GDP at factor cost declined 1.32% in Q1 2013, accelerating annual rate of decline relative to Q4 2012 when it fell 1.04%.
  • Compared to Q1 2011, when the current Government came to power, GDP at factor cost was 0.72% higher in Q1 2013.
  • Taxes rose 1.04% q/q in Q1 2013, after having posted a decline of 0.64% in Q4 2012. On an annual basis, taxes were down 0.79% in Q4 2012, but they rose 2.32% in Q1 2013.
  • Compared to Q1 2011, taxes were up 1.16% in Q1 2013.
  • To summarise the above, austerity is clearly biting. Taxes are rising at a 60% faster rate than economic activity.
  • Subsidies remained relatively constant in Q1 2013 on an annual basis, implying that net taxes rose strongly.
  • GDP at constant prices (accounting for taxes net of subsidies - the headline metric usually referenced as GDP) fell 0.58% q/q in Q1 2013, which follows a shallower contraction of 0.18% recorded in Q4 2012. On an annual basis, GDP contracted by 1.03% in Q1 2013, following a 1.02% contraction in Q4 2012.
  • Net factor income for the Rest of World (outflows to the rest of the world from factor payments, net of inflows of Irish incomes earned abroad) fell dramatically in Q1 2013, down 16.96% q/q, following a 3.22% decline q/q in Q4 2012. In year-on-year terms, net outflows fell 16.55% in Q4 2012 and by 27.58% in Q1 2013. 
  • It is impossible to tell from QNA the core drivers of the net outflows, however, from the balance of payments data we have reinvested earnings in Q1 2013 by the foreign companies in Ireland at EUR4,753 million, up on EUR4,010 million in Q4 2012 and down on EUR6,768 million in Q1 2012. The gap of Repatriations of earnings from Ireland are not provided for Q1 2013.
  • On foot of significantly reduced outflow of funds abroad, GNP at constant market prices rose in Q1 2013 rose 2.85% q/q and 5.46% y/y, beating growth of 0.51% q/q and 3.01% y/y recorded in Q4 2012. 
  • However, as analysis in the subsequent posts will show, this growth is entirely dependent on reduced outflows of funds abroad. Q/q, net expatriation of funds slowed down by EUR1,204 million, while earnings outflows abroad shrunk by EUR2,015 million.
  • Taking the average net factor payments abroad for Q1 2010-2012 in place of Q1 2013 figure, GNP growth controlling for net factor payments changes would have been around -0.01% y/y and -2.48% q/q.
Charts below summarise seasonally unadjusted series:

The chart below clearly shows that even in y/y terms, we are now in a solid, three-quarters long (so far_ recession.

The GDP/GNP gap has, predictably - given the shrinking of net factor payments abroad - declined from 25-26 percent (seasonally-adjusted and unadjusted) in Q1 2012 to 17.3-17.5 percent in Q1 2013:

It is worth noting in the chart above a significant increase in volatility in the gap, which is reflective of the greater volatility in Ireland's GDP and GNP series as well as destabilisation in growth correlation between GDP and GNP. This new pattern is most pronounced starting with Q1 2008 and is associated with both - the crisis and the underlying re-distribution of growth drivers away from the domestic economy to services exports, especially during the 2010-2011 'recovery'.
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