Thursday, December 16, 2010

Economics 16/12/10: Q3 2010 National Accounts - part 1

This is the first post analysing the latest Quarterly National Accounts data for Q3 2010 released today.

Let's take a big picture view first.
Both the GDP and GNP expanded in Q3, with GNP marking the second quarter of continuous expansion. Real GDP grew +0.5% qoq. Currently, GDP stands at 1.7% higher the lowest point in this recession so far (Q4 2009), but 0.694% below Q3 2009 in current prices. Cumulative Q1-Q3 GDP (seasonally adjusted, constant prices) stands at -1.21% below Q1-Q3 2010 GDP. In other words, year on year we are still in a recession.

Real GNP also rose qoq by 1.1% - a second consecutive quarterly rise following a tiny uplift of 0.1% in Q2. Since GNP measures our actual economy, netting out transfer pricing by the MNCs, it is worth taking a bit of a closer look at the numbers. Net transfers out of this economy, which includes remitted profits, rose 4.573% in Q3 in yoy terms. Over the first three quarters of 2010 this number is up 10.46% relative to 2009. As the result, our GNP was 1.77% below Q3 2009 level and the first three quarters cumulative GNP for 2010 was 3.7% below that of the same period in 2009. By any real metric, this is a raging recession, folks.

The good news from today's figures is that our exports are still growing, and in fact, are still driving economic growth. Total exports grew by 3.6% qoq, though that rate was 7.6% in Q2 2010 and 6.4% in Q1, which implies that Q3 posted a slowdown in exports growth. We now have three consecutive quarters of growth in exports. Which is brilliant news. Year on year, Q3 exports grew by 13.1%, while first three quarters of 2010 posted a rise in exports of 8.9% relative to the same period in 2009.

Irish exporters do deserve some serious praise here. And one other net positive is that we are finally seeing domestic economy benefiting from this exports growth, as evidence by the slight closing of the GDP/GNP gap.

But more on exports later.

As chart above shows, consumer spending and government spending were down, once again.

Consumer spending was down 0.544% qoq - the largest decline in year and a half. In yoy terms, consumer spending was down 1.38% and in Q1-Q3 cumulative terms, personal consumption was down 1.1% on 2009.

Government spending fell 5.053% yoy in Q3 (note that the same yoy decline in Q1 2010 was 6.082%, implying that Government performance on spending side actually worsened during the year), qoq Government spending fell 1.738% in Q3 2010.

Total domestic demand is down 1.7% qoq and 5.1% yoy.

But take a look at the comparatives for the dynamics of private consumption and Government spending since 2005. First, consider both expressed in constant prices:
And next, consider the same expressed in current prices:

In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, Government spending is currently between Q1-Q2 2006, while private consumption is between Q4 2005 and Q1 2006. A close comparison. Once we allow for inflation (in current prices terms), Government spending is currently between Q4 2006 and Q1 2007, while private consumption is between Q4 2005 and Q1 2006. Much less of a match.

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