The Relationship between Average Annual and Quarter-On-Quarter GDP Growth Rates: Implications for Projections and Macroeconomic Analysis
11 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2019
Date Written: September 18, 2019
The average annual growth rate of GDP can be formulated algebraically as a weighted average of the quarter-on-quarter growth rates of the preceding and the current year. Sometimes this can give rise to counterintuitive results and misinterpretations of how the economy is evolving. For example, a given sequence of GDP growth rates, in quarter-on-quarter terms, in the current year, may give rise to very different average annual rates depending on the trajectory of GDP in the preceding year. Also, with given quarter-on-quarter growth figures for the four quarters of a particular year, average GDP growth will be higher, the earlier in the year that the largest quarter-on-quarter increases occur.
In the context of macroeconomic projections, analysis tends to focus on average annual GDP growth rates, insofar as they offer a summarised version of the outlook. However, it should be noted that revisions to the current year’s projections with a particular sign (for example, upwards) may reflect changes of two types: first, the publication of new, more favourable National Accounts data for past quarters; and second, a downward revision to growth prospects for the remaining quarters of the year. Therefore, it would be a mistake to conclude from the mere observation of an upward revision to average annual growth that the economic outlook has improved.
Keywords: growth rates, carry-over effect, GDP, macroeconomic forecasts, macroeconomic projections
JEL Classification: E01, E32, O40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation