Ugly Q3 GDP Confirms Personal Consumption Collapsing; Headline "Growth" Driven By Government, Inventory Accumulation

Tyler Durden's picture

One glance at today's second read of Q3 GDP may leave some with the false impression that the US economy is soaring, because after sliding to 1.3% in Q2, and after a preliminary read of 2.0% in the first Q3 estimate, today's print, which missed estimates of a 2.8% print, did nonetheless rise to 2.7%. "A stunning success", the administration sycophants would say. Absolutely wrong. Because a quick glance at the underlying numbers shows the true picture of the economy which contracted far more than most expected, with personal consumption collapsing to 1.4% Q/Q, on hopes of a 1.9% rise, and down from 2.0%. In fact, at 0.99% personal consumption expenditures - the core driver of 70% of the US economy - were a tiny 36% of the headline number. Ironically today's second GDP revision was far worse when analyzed at the component level, than the first Q3 estimate, which while lower overall at 2.0%, at least had personal consumption nearly 50% higher at 1.42%, or well over half of the total contribution. So what drove "growth" in Q3? Nothing short of the most hollow and worst components of GDP: Government Spending, which soared to 0.67% of the annualized number, the first positive print in years, and of course, Inventories, which were responsible for 30% of the headline number. Finally, and most importantly, Fixed Investment, aka CapEx, was a meager 0.1%, or the lowest GDP contribution since Q1 2011. Without CapEx there is no corporate revenue growth (and future hiring intentions) period.

Sadly not even Sandy can be blamed on the collapse in consumption in Q3, for the simple reason that the Hurricane did not hit until 1 month into Q4. Perhaps it is Sandy's fault it did not hit sooner. In the meantime, all those hoping that the US consumer is finally waking up from his slumber and is spending (on credit of course) like a drunken sailor (for anything more than iPads using student loan proceeds), will have to wait until Q1 2013, as the Q4 2012 number will be even uglier than the one just released.

And a longer-term confirmation of the collapse of Personal Consumption courtesy of John Lohman:

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mr1963's picture

Time for an independent counsel -- not that it would do any good  -- to look into election manipulation by BLS.

Tsar Pointless's picture

Those are some pretty charts.

I'm sure the algos will make the equity charts look all pretty in the color of green today, too.

Zer0head's picture

there must be some mistake, Sara Eisen on BBG suggested there would be good GDP news

I mean she has the cred, what with a 12 mth degree in journalism from NW

SheepDog-One's picture

There was good GDP news, they released the phony numbers and the DOW is up 50 what could be better than that?

yogibear's picture

Of course she didn't get the spot because of connections.

otto skorzeny's picture

another seductive little money Jewess with a silver tongue.

yogibear's picture

Bernanke and fed says keep on believing in skittle pooping unicorns. He says his monetizing is working.

I am Jobe's picture

Need More Black Friday Sales at WMT. Yippie, fucking inbred fucks.

monopoly's picture

And look at retail, Tiffany and Kohls getting hit and Kohls is one of the better run companies. Thank God it is all transitory.

otto skorzeny's picture

Kohl's started to build a store around here last year- got alot of the underground stuff in a and just up and abandoned it- big piles of dirt and machines have been sitting there for a year now. they saw the handwriting on the wall as far as the economy I guess.

the not so mighty maximiza's picture

Consumers are not consuming, arrrrghghhhhhh



ptoemmes's picture

Yeah, so whose left to open their pie hole today about the Fiscal Ciff?

Lights, camera, action....

I am Jobe's picture

Need more debates and press conferences. Nuf said. Yak away Congress and Whorehouse.

mrktwtch2's picture

in a world built up by lies and deciet..the truth becomes the enemy of the state..

Temporalist's picture

That has been said before by better men in more eloquent fashion.

I am Jobe's picture

While at

All good now.


U.S. Economy Grew at 2.7% Rate, More Than First Estimated

SheepDog-One's picture

We'll see if there are any actual retail suckers left to buy it with their own money.

buzzsaw99's picture

cash for clunker o-phones on the horizon?

yogibear's picture

The fix with these guys is to always increase debt and monitize. Devalue the currency. A race to the bottom.

John Law Lives's picture

excerpt from the article you referenced:

"The Fed will promote maximum employment and price stability to the greatest extent our tools permit, and we will stay the course.”  -  William Dudley

Good gravy.  How can this guy say "price stability" with a straight face.  They are out to crush the US Dollar.

DavidC's picture

Here in the UK I drive past the 2012 Olympics area. Over the last week or two I've noticed cranes and trucks breaking down the Logisitcs areas. This DEstruction will count towards the UK's GDP and yet nothing CONstructive is being done.

GDP has NO real reflection what an economy is really doing, especially when Government spending is included. Make everyone unemployed, spend massive amounts of Government money supporting everyone and the GDP will go up! Insane.


woggie's picture

the beast is on the gobble
and all that matters is we're all headed for it's belly

SheepDog-One's picture

WHEE! DOW up almost 100 already....all those who said we went thru a year of fantasy due to 'election year' obviously got it wrong, theyre now ramping up the fraud if anything.

So I guess theyre trying for the 13,500 DOW level again for about the 12th time in a row?


Zymurguy's picture

MW Headline:  "U.S.'s third-quarter GDB is revised up to 2.7% from 2%"


Futures pitching a tent pole, schwing!!!  Party on!!!

azzhatter's picture

GDB?? Is that Gross Domestic Boner?

Seasmoke's picture

Thank God for the government. Where would we be without it.

azzhatter's picture

Everything is fixed. Yipppeee

Caracalla's picture

I just read an article in Marketwatch where Michael Gayed says the fiscal cliff is actually extremely bullish for stocks, even if we go over it.  I am totally confused now, lol

rsnoble's picture

I'm doing some consuming today. Going to Cabela's to get this in the 44mag size:

It's not my only gun so save me the "you should get this instead" speech.

Everything I have going is geared around the internet. Not good.

Zymurguy's picture

rsnoble, I've got an ol' Winchester 94 in 30-30... sweet shootin' rifle.  I too would like to pick up one of the big boy rifles!

rsnoble's picture

Cool!  Yeah I can't wait to get it. I have 2 of the Henry 22's they are awesome to say the least.

whotookmyalias's picture

How does this GDP thingy work?  Did I contribute to GDP when I stocked up on ammo or when I stopped at the range today and consumed a couple hundred rounds?  I'm confused.  :)

Winston Churchill's picture

The corpse has finally stoped twichting.

Spincter dilation next, followed by burial,

ziggy59's picture

Wow, BLACK WTF, a dud!

11-29 9:33: GAP (GPS) November same-store sales up 3% vs. Exp. up 3.8%
11-29 9:33: Macy's (M) November same-store sales down 0.7% vs. Exp. up 2.5%
11-29 9:33: Target (TGT) November same-store sales down 1% vs. Exp. up 2.1%
11-29 9:33: TJX (TJX) November same-store sales up 3% vs. Exp. up 3.2%

Of course Sandy will be blamed and theres always January department store cards....

rsnoble's picture

A system that thinks you can have ever-lasting growth is flawed to begin with and a big part of the problem.  "Oh our precious stock prices!" LOL.

Cortez's picture

Personal consumption will never recover to past levels during this generation.  First, wages, the only source of income for the bottom 90% or so, are lower in real terms and on an inflation adjusted basis.  Second, those who got hammered in the housing debacle and job losses of recent years are sure not to take on debt up to their gills again, even if they qualify to acquire debt.

whotookmyalias's picture

I've become more like my Grandparents who grew up during the Depression than I ever thought.  Mistrust of banks, payoff the mortgage, avoid debt, save money, stash some away for a rainy day.  I don't recall them talking much about the gold/silver/lead that was lost down the well or in a boating accident, but I'm sure many things went missing that way.

John Law Lives's picture

As per the above chart entitled, 'Components of GDP By Quarter - Revised', the contribution from Personal Investments appears to be declining each successive quarter after Q3 2011.  Not too encouraging.


Stuart's picture

everything now depends on spin and revolves around spin.  This whole managed economy experiment is nothing but a washing machine.  I think therefore I am. 


lostcause's picture

 The problem is that government is run the opposite of the private sector. I served in the army and got to see some of our budgets for the year. As we came closer to the end of the fiscal year we were required to spend the remaining money or we would lose it in the next fiscal year. We were actually rewarded for spending more money. It didn't matter if we needed it or not, we were going to spend. This is how all aspects of government are run and why there will be no spending cuts!

BraveSirRobin's picture

This is true. I have been party to many meetings with the government in which their entire definition of performance was your "spend rate," that is, were you are spending your money according to a programmed spend line on a chart (slight overspending is desired more than any under spending). What you actually delivered for that money was nowhere in the discussion.

To be fair, there are, eventually, technical discussions and reviews which can effect in the long term what money is spent on, but the month to month concern is to spend what has been given to you at a programmed rate (not too fast, and not too slow).

Government program managers are terrified that if they spend too slowly, another program manager will try and take your funds. So they like to overspend a little and try to take someone else's funds to make up the difference, but not spend too fast so you do not have to idle your contractors for more than a couple of weeks or a month if your plans to take other people's money falls through.

In this regard, contractors are vital to the system, as you can adjust and fine tune your spending in ways you cannot with government employees. Contractors keep a cadre of part-timers and subcontractors around to absorb this blow if overspending does not get rewarded with transferring money from an under spending program.


blunderdog's picture

Wow--well I feel hecka much better now. 

I've INCREASED my consumption.  Of booze.

Pairadimes's picture

So if I read this right, our economy is based on channel-stuffing into a rapidly slowing consumer market, with government spending taking up the slack. What could possibly go wrong?

BraveSirRobin's picture

Go ahead and yell at me, but let me at least play the Devil's advocate for a moment.

I see no indication of recession much less depression in these numbers. Even if you exclude change in government expenditure (the rise of which could be indicative of stronger tax revenues based on stronger economic performance at the state and local level) and inventories (which could be driven by expectations of increased future demand), we would still come in at 1.0% growth. There is nothing spectacular here, but it's not bad.

Tell me how it's indicative of an economic collapse or depression?

I do think the GDP deflator used by the government is too low, and hence, reported GDP growth too high, but even then, I do not see enough delta to push us into negative territory. In addition, the important thing is that nominal GDP grows faster than nominal debt. We are certainly not making that requirement at the moment.


dscott8186's picture

The devil is in the details - 

The dropping of gasoline prices from the summer to the election didn't give you a clue of declining economic activity?   Pray tell why would the price of gas fall during a period of normally high consumption?  Would that be because consumption didn't follow it's normal pattern and was way lower than normal? The MSM soft pedaled the explanation that consumption was less than expected they didn't bother to explore the implication of decreased economic activity.  

Increasing levels of inventory is NOT a signal of future demand in a just in time delivery and warehousing business model. On the contrary, it is a direct signal of over supply from weakening demand. When net profits run 3 to 4% of sales, any excess inventory is a crippling blow to the bottom line.

Apparently, all these layoffs in so called good times is a non sequitur...

Revenues are up because companies are paying out dividends in advance in 2012 to beat tax increases in 2013, meaning in 2013 the Revenues will fall.

Companies Shelling Out Billions to Beat the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Taking advantage of super-low interest rates, companies have been issuing debt at a record rate this month. Some say they plan to use the proceeds to fund dividends and share repurchases.

“I think what you’re seeing is a reaction to the lack of clarity around the tax laws, and that’s what Treasurers and CFOs are doing,” said Joel Levington, managing director of corporate credit at Brookfield Investment Management.

Christopher Reich of Thomson Reuters IFR points out, for instance, that Murphy Oil in its prospectus Tuesday also said that it would use the proceeds of its more than $600 million offering of 5-year, 10-year and 30-year bonds to fund its previously announced special dividend, among other things.

Yeah, Obamanomics at work, companies paying dividends with borrowed money.

But let's not use our critical thinking skills as that would spoil the narrative that everything is just peachy.   lalalala, I can't hear you, lalalala


homonohumanus's picture

The real solution to all this bs, is to give up on our pretenze of being, democracy, republic and so.

We are looting the world on false pretenses we can't look at our selves in the mirror, we like nice story.


Growth is going nowhere, just shift from x% a year to the "doubling period" and think about how much more doubling we can sustain /afford. I'm not convinced that we can go through a single more doubling.


Give up on pretenses, nobody cares about citizenry, posting on forum and voting every couples of years is peanuts.

Embrasse the Empire, let avoid a possible world war and the crumbling of our standard of living till we have the upper hand. There is only one way, printing is only an issue when thalassocraty fails. Thalassocracy fails because of lack of real popular support and moral impostures... We want to have it both way, that never was an option.


I marked in my head the year 2015 because that when some big think tank think the Dollars (or another currency) is to be adopted by Nato countries. Empire is coming one way or another ie with or without or approval. Ironically possibly for our best interest, when the whiners are spoiled brats...


What if poor are stripped of their civils rights? Who care it is all about the mid class which number crumbles every where. Today somebody posted an interesting link, 2/3 of the working force makes less 20000 $ a year. You can't afford retirement with that... a sane health care, and so on. And to begin with what power where they granted by the power to vote? Nada, they lose and lose more. Not much of a loss.