Net-net, the 3Q12 GDP report suggests weak imports may be leading a sequential slowdown in both “C” and “I” in the upcoming quarter(s). Additionally, an demonstrable and unsustainable acceleration in “G” was all that stood in the way of a -35% deceleration to +0.9% QoQ SAAR, allowing the headline figure to come in at +2% QoQ SAAR. This means that growth is trending along a +0.9% QoQ SAAR run rate and potentially headed lower if “C” and “I” exhibits signs of slowing.
Unfortunately, dual slowing of “C” and “I” is indeed a probable scenario, given the uncertainty surrounding the election, fiscal cliff and debt ceiling breach. Moreover, each catalyst may actually be contributing to a noteworthy acceleration in corporate cost-cutting initiatives (layoffs?), as highlighted on 3Q earnings calls. Recessions happen when baseline GROWTH is weak, the corporate earnings cycle slows and companies start trying to cut their way into meeting peak-cycle, peak-margin forward EPS estimates. In this respect, 4Q12 is very much like its 2007 counterpart.
Our updated US GIP model is included in the chart above.