Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Huge Q4 GDP Announcement

The headline economic signal for the coming week will be Friday’s advance estimate for fourth quarter GDP.

In preparation for the Friday announcement from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), here’s a snapshot of GDP since 1947 together with the real (inflation-adjusted) S&P Composite. The start date is when the BEA began reporting GDP on a quarterly basis. Prior to 1947, GDP was reported annually. To be more precise, what the lower half of the chart shows is the percent change from the preceding period in Real (inflation-adjusted) Gross Domestic Product. I’ve also included recessions, which are determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

What are mainstream economists forecasting for Q4 2010 GDP? is looking for 3.4% and claims a consensus estimate of 3.8%. The Wall Street Journal’s January survey of 56 economists has a forecast range of 2.4% to 5.0%, which gives a median of 3.4% and a mean (average) of 3.3%. The full results can be downloaded from the WSJ in Excel format. Here is a table showing current WSJ survey estimates for quarterly GDP throughout 2011.

Here is a closer look at the WSJ GDP forecast distribution for Q4 2010.

Interestingly enough, the 3.3% average of the WSJ survey, which was the actual forecast of 4 of the 56 survey respondents, is exactly the average quarterly GDP since its inception in 1947.

We’ll review these forecasts after the Friday number is published.

Doug Short Ph.d is the author of

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