At the end of January, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that its preliminary estimate of the U.S. economy’s growth in the fourth quarter of 2012, and found that gross domestic product actually shrank, by 0.1 percent (due almost entirely to lower defense spending and drawdowns in inventories). But these numbers are always subject to a lot of revision, and pretty quickly, we saw some better trade data that analysts took to indicate that the economy probably grew slightly (though there was also some worse inventory data that dragged things down). Lo and behold, the BEA’s second take says that U.S. economy actually surged by a whole tenth of a percentage point:
Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 percent. . . .
The “second” estimate of the fourth-quarter percent change in GDP is 0.2 percentage point, or $9.2 billion, more than the advance estimate issued last month, primarily reflecting an upward revision to exports, a downward revision to imports, and an upward revision to nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by a downward revision to private inventory investment.
The BEA’s third and final estimate will be released in about a month’s time.