Great Recession datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
April 29, 2009

From this morning’s atrociously bad GDP report:

Exports collapsed 30 percent, the biggest decline since 1969, after dropping 23.6 percent in the fourth quarter. The decline in exports knocked off a record 4.06 percentage points from GDP.

By my reckoning, that means exports are now running at half the level they were at six months ago, more or less. (These are absolute drops, right, not annualized rates?) That’s a pretty startling sign of how global this recession is, and how hard it’s going to be to turn things around. Yes, the massive decline in inventories is probably good news. But it’s really hard to see a -6.1% headline figure as anything but a brutal sign that things are continuing to get much worse than almost any mainstream economist (or government stress-tester, for that matter) dared fear.

Update: Turns out that the export declines are annualized: they’re off 11% or so in absolute terms. Which is still bad, but at least it’s not at Japanese levels.

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