Add durable goods to the ever-growing pile of stats that suggest the economic growth is slowing rapidly, assuming of course there is any growth at all.

The growth everyone is trumping up is in reality a mirage as noted in the excellent column this morning Can We Please Stop Pretending the GDP Is “Growing”? by Charles Hughes Smith.

The Federal government borrowed and spent $5.1 trillion over the past four years to generate a cumulative $700 billion increase in the nation’s GDP. That means we’ve borrowed and spent $7.28 for every $1 of nominal “growth” in GDP.

In constant dollars, GDP is flat: we got no growth at all for our $5.1 trillion: zip, zero, nada. In constant dollars, the GDP in 2011 might return to the 2007 level, if the economy continues “growing” at the same pace reached in the first three months of 2011. If not, then the GDP will actually be lower than pre-recession levels.

If you borrowed $7 to get $1 in your pocket, would that strike you as a good deal?How long do you reckon you could borrow $7 to get $1 of “growth” in your finances?

US Factory Orders Drop 1.2%, Durable Goods Orders Drop 3.6%

Bloomberg reports U.S. Factory Orders Fell 1.2% in April, Most Since May 2010

Orders placed with U.S. factories fell in April by the most in almost a year as demand for aircraft waned and Japan’s earthquake restrained auto-related supplies.

Bookings for manufacturers’ goods dropped 1.2 percent, the biggest decrease since May 2010, after a revised 3.8 percent gain in March, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 1 percent decline in April, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Orders for durable goods fell 3.6 percent.

Estimates of the 67 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from a decline of 3 percent to a gain of 1.5 percent.

Orders for capital goods excluding aircraft and military equipment, a measure of future business investment, fell 2.3 percent, the most since January. March capital goods orders rose 5.4 percent.

Jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to 422,000 in the week ended May 28, according to Labor Department figures released today. Economists had predicted a drop to 417,000.

Tokyo-based Honda said its North American and China vehicle production will return to pre-earthquake levels in August. In the U.S., production of Honda’s Civic small cars will continue to be slowed by limited supplies of some parts, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement May 26. Production of the 2012 Civic, which went on sale in April, will be at about 50 percent, it said.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is glowing brighter for us, represented by this significant improvement in our production situation,” John Mendel, executive vice president of U.S. sales, said in the statement.

No Light At End of Tunnel

By the time parts are back in full supply, there will be little demand for cars.

The light at the end of the tunnel is in reality the recession train headed this way.

Moreover, durable goods inventories mount. Please consider the Department of Commerce Full Report on Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders April 2011

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in April, up sixteen consecutive months, increased $3.3 billion or 0.9 percent to $350.6 billion, unchanged from the previously published increase. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis and followed a 1.7 percent March increase.

4-Week Moving Average of Weekly Unemployment Claims 425,500

As expected, the 4-week moving average of Weekly Unemployment Claims dropped by 14,000 to 425,500, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 439,500.

That number was very easy to game as noted in Mood Swings: Economists Rush to Lower Payroll Estimates; What to Expect on Thursday and Friday.

My guess was 427,000. Tomorrow’s job report is much more of a crap shoot.

What to Expect on Friday?

Garbage. That’s what.

I will take the under on jobs and the over on the expected unemployment rate of 8.9%. For a guess on the latter, 9.2% seems reasonable on the data (and that was my opinion before the ISM and ADP reports). However, Lord only knows how many people the BLS might say dropped out of the labor force.

Bear in mind that McDonald’s added 50,000 to 70,000 jobs and those jobs may affect the establishment survey. However, no one knows because the BLS will not confirm who is in the survey.

Regardless, if burger flipping saves the day, it won’t last.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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