Today’s report of a tepid rise in first-quarter gross domestic product, by 0.7 percent, comes with an asterisk: There appears to be a recurrent pattern of low growth in first-quarter GDP going back years. Some economists argue it goes back decades. That’s thanks to something economists call “residual seasonality” — recurrent seasonal patterns in the GDP data that are not already accounted for by seasonal adjustments applied by government economists. So is this initial first-quarter GDP report really a good way to predict where the economy is headed?
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