The spectacular spectacle of an absurd creature called the “annualized” growth rate of GDP appeared again this morning, and the headlines screamed that GDP, adjusted for inflation, surged by a record of “33.1%” in Q3. On the face of it, this would mean that the economy increased by one-third from Q2. But that’s the magic of “annualized” rates. And it’s time to kill them in headline reporting.
That “33.1%” reflected the jump in Q3 from Q2 but roughly multiplied by 4 to produce a theoretical figure of what GDP for the whole year would be if it kept surging four quarters in a row like this. And that’s not going to happen, just like the plunge in Q2 wasn’t actually “31.4%” and wasn’t repeated four quarters in a row. Deeper down in its GDP report this morning, the Bureau of Economic Analysis also reported “not annualized” figures. And not annualized, GDP jumped by a record of 7.4% from Q2, after the record 9.0% plunge in Q2 from Q1:No, GDP Didn’t Jump “33.1%” in Q3, But 7.4%, after Plunging 9% in Q2: Time to Kill “Annualized” Growth Rates. Imports, Powered by Stimulus, Dragged on GDP | Wolf Street