Visualizing GDP - An Inside Look At The Q4 Second Estimate

The chart below is a way to visualize real GDP change since 2007. It uses a stacked column chart to segment the four major components of GDP with a dashed line overlay to show the sum of the four, which is real GDP itself. Here is the latest overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 (table 1), according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP also increased 2.1 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the "advance" estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was also 2.1 percent. In the second estimate, an upward revision to private inventory investment was offset by a downward revision to nonresidential fixed investment (see "Updates to GDP" on page 2).

Let's take a closer look at the contributions of GDP of the four major subcomponents. The data source for this chart is the Excel file accompanying the BEA's latest GDP news release (see the links in the right column). Specifically, it uses Table 2: Contributions to Percent Change in Real Gross Domestic Product.

(Click on image to enlarge)

GDP Components

Note: The conventional practice is to round GDP to one decimal place, the latest at 2.1%. The GDP in the chart above is the real GDP calculated to two decimal places.

Here is a chart of the latest estimates.

Over the time frame of this chart, the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) component has shown the most consistent correlation with real GDP itself. When PCE has been positive, GDP has usually been positive, and vice versa. In the latest GDP data, the contribution of PCE came at 1.17 of the 2.10 real GDP, down from the previous revision and a positive contribution to Q4 GDP.

Gross Private Domestic Investment was a negative contributor.

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