GDP: Taking the Plunge.

It takes a mighty big tape to measure our Gross Domestic Product, even on a quarterly basis.  Getting a firm grasp on the overall number within a few weeks after the quarter ends is impossible.  That’s why GDP gets reported once a month throughout the subsequent quarter with revisions applied as better information comes available.  The upshot is we receive three reports: the preliminany, the revised, and the final GDP, one each month.  Further revisions are not uncommon either, so take the concept of “final” with a grain of salt.  This Friday we will get the revised number.  The preliminary published last month surprised everyone by showing substantially less shrinkage than expected; it was off just -3.8%.  Now I know that’s a horrible number, but the street expected worse. I bet they’ll get it this Friday .  Since the last report, some of the components of GDP have been reported for December, such as our balance of trade and inventory accumulation.   There will be downward revisions to the preliminary report which point to broader weakness.  A substantial lowering of GDP below -5.0% is a good guess.  It should surprise no one but probably will.