The components of residential investment in the fourth quarter GDP report (which is subject to revision, of course) is worth looking at more closely.

Single-family housing, which made up more than 3.5% of GDP at the peak, has declined precipitously, but registered a slight increase in the fourth quarter. Another driver of growth in residential investment was brokers’ commissions, which were sparked by the rapid rate of home sales. These drivers were offset by continued declines as a percentage of GDP in multi-family investment and residential improvements.

What should you read into the numbers? The recovery is in the timing; the new home and resale home market began its decline earlier than other segments of the residential investment economy. Improvements are driven partly by home values and partly by income; multi-family investment is driven by access to credit markets and property valuations.

Sustained improvement in the residential real estate market will help to drive increased investment in home improvements. The dynamic for the multi-family is somewhat more complex, but hinges to a large degree on stability in the employment markets.

9A70078C-AB55-46B5-9CCD-6DF81D70626A.jpg

Thanks to CalculatedRisk for the chart.

The new meme? Cheer up. Mark Morford cajoles us at SFGate.com to lighten up and stop being so negative.

1E79A5E0-AC1D-40A3-8EB2-E96F962B55BB.jpgNo lightening up for Paul Krugman, though. He’s been sharing blog posts at NYTimes.com about Obama’s budget submission. In this post, he wonders how freezing “that little wedge off to the left” is going to drive down the deficit.

Adam Singer shares some thematic points derived from building a Facebook fan page with more than 700,000 followers. The scale is outsized, but the approach and techniques are relevant for everyone. The starting point is actively leveraging a Community of Interest. (via TheFutureBuzz)

71BB56EC-F46D-48E8-9A63-43D76C8C87EA.jpgAn interesting look at the relationship between personal income and personal savings. As the chart at the right shows, spending grew faster than incomes. Read the post to see what that likely means. (via TheBigPicture)

Robert Scoble has been doing a great job of tracking Google and pointing to where they might be going. In this post, he connects the dots on Google’s social and mobile activities. In essence, Google is going to reconstitute its vast footprint to create an open social network.

My colleague Todd Dubner uses the Yodle investment as a springboard for thinking about why our company, NCI, is able to retain its relevance in the local market.

So, you ask yourself, is the entire world of social networking focused in Facebook. No, it isn’t. Here’s a good essay from the CEO of myYearbook that lays out a way to think about building a private social network in a Facebook-dominated world. (via PaidContent)

David Carr of The New York Times suggests that everyone backs off the frenzy of what the iPad has or hasn’t and consider its monumental implications as a media delivery tool. The iPad, Carr says, changes the rules of the game. Let me add, although David doesn’t say it explicity, Steve Jobs just took the plasma TV off your wall and put it in your hand.

Greg at DigitalTonto tackles the iPad question less sententiously, but with equal passion for its viability as a media platform.

Here’s an easy list of 6 ways that Gen Y is different, with a marketing slant. (via MillenialMarketing)

690CE1B4-B331-47E5-A9D3-3AEAAA9A3250.jpgSomewhat off topic, but a testament to human ingenuity: a Roman implement that foreshadows the Swiss Army knife. Imagine the complexity of the patent issues.

I’ve written a lot about how important debt has been to fueling growth over the past 30 years.  If you assume that the total possible debt has been put on the consumer economy, then you begin to see how important creating fundamental sources of new revenue are to our economic recovery.

The logic is very simple.  The economy will increase because of more domestic consumption or because of an increase in net exports.

Domestic consumption will grow at the rate of population growth plus inflation.

Net exports will grow if we produce more things that people want to buy.

The chart is from a clever post from Henry Blodget.

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What role is human emotion playing in the prospects for an economic recovery?

Robert Shiller expressed his concern in this Sunday’s New York Times that a deflated population, burned by the excesses of the last decade, are feeling detached from the responsibility and opportunity to drive an economic recovery.

A USA Today/Gallup poll, for example, found this month that about two-thirds of Americans say they think that economic recovery won’t start for two more years, while 28 percent say it won’t begin for at least five years.

The workforce has been in a long period of disenchantment, Shiller suggests.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual growth of business output per labor hour averaged 3.2 percent from 1948 to 1973, but only 1.9 percent from 1973 to 2008.

Ever since the long-term productivity slowdown became visible, the economist Samuel Bowles, now at the Santa Fe Institute, has said that its causes are to be found as much in the loss of “hearts and minds” of workers and investors as in technology.

This month at Yale, in lectures titled “Machiavelli’s Mistake,” he spoke of the error of thinking that a high-performance economy could be based on self-interest alone. And he warned of the overuse of incentives that appeal to individual gain.

The path back is to regain the interest and the energy of the people who make the engine go — workers and investors.  A sense of the possible, combined with a sense of purpose, can have a tremendous impact.

Solutions for the economy must address not only the structural instability of our financial institutions, but also these problems in the hearts and minds of workers and investors — problems that may otherwise persist for many years.

What are the factors that can drive that feeling of potential?

As I read the Shiller piece, I wondered to what degree the emphasis on “inventing the future” during the technological and financial boom of the last 20 years has left the rank and file feeling disengaged and uninspired.  Our business mythology off the last two decades has focused on hero-stories, individuals who have invented the future whole cloth, made great wealth, retooled the way business works.

But so many of these hero stories have ended up being all smoke:  Internet companies sold for billions of dollars end up vanishing; the great wealth of the financial services economy evaporated almost overnight.

Our current mythos is of the worker as disadvantaged, of an economy that doesn’t make things, that is at a disadvantage.

If Shiller’s observations are right, and that the national character has been distressed by the economic downturn, then what can set it right?  Is this as easy as picking the right narrative, picking the right goals to set, so that people can feel like they are picking the country up by its bootstraps and setting it right?

Hope everyone is having a great Friday. The focus of the good reads today? GDP, the iPad, why consumers are forcing the integration of marketing programs, and a pointer about getting your own personal web cred in order.

The Q4 GDP report is out. I’ll be posting on a couple of trends in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here is Calculated Risk’s quick analysis.

Some charts that break down the Q4 GDP results. (via TheBigPicture)

And finally, on the DGP front, Donald Marron shares his consistently lucid analysis. Bottom line: inventory growth was the biggest driver in GDP growth. Now, consumers just need to buy the things that are being made.

A chart to keep the recovery in perspective: we’ve been down for a while.

A241CA77-66CB-4600-8A55-55B1BE2C99A1.jpg

J.D. Salinger is dead, and his death is a reminder that he was alive. He said he was a writing who liked writing. He didn’t like publishing. That puts him at odds with a lot of us who are publishing without constraint (read Blogging.) In memory of, here’s an obscure anecdote. (via BoingBoing)

Robert Scoble gives a good take on the iPad and the surrounding eco-system. The question isn’t whether it will save media; it’s how the device will compete for the gaming experience, and how effectively it can chew into the netbook market.

Marketing programs have to be integrated to be effective: consumers are looking for message consistency and multiple touch points at any time.833513DA-A30B-4497-AC8C-332E2A4492C8.jpg

Another social media case study from Ignite Social Media. This time, Yoplait. Great stuff.

To end your week, read this post from Adam Singer. If you want to be able to understand how to keep your brand’s marketing program at the center of the conversation, you’re going to have to learn how to do some of these technological things yourself. I give this point of view a big endorsement! (via TheFutureBuzz)

Have a great weekend.

Rupert Murdoch’s daughter says “Social networks are a tool with which we can tell our stories.” (Via LATimes)

An argument that says Facebook has developed so much scale as a social operating system, it’s created switching costs for users that are the equivalent of a barrier to entry. (via Reuters)

“The print reader of The New York Times spends on average 35 minutes a day reading that paper. But a visitor to the NYTimes.com site spends only 34 minutes a month there,” says industry-observer Ken Auletta at an industry event. That’s one thing that media companies have to learn how to change, he says in a wide ranging talk about the competitive advantage of Google and the focus imperative at traditional media companies. (via MinOnline)

Another interesting read from Greg Satell: how to apply social network analysis to your marketing strategy. Some arcane parts, but practical. (via DigitalTonto)

Calculated Risk looks at today’s unemployment numbers. (via CalculatedRisk)

Ezra Klein likes Obama’s speech and wants to see the proof in the pudding to come. I’m just wondering how everything gets paid for. (via WashingtonPost)

FEF37601-56FC-4C16-8FE6-65479D7BC747.jpgThree charts that show the discouraging trends in employment by the private sector during this recession. Very crisp presentation. Here’s a sample.

Brad DeLong lays out the options for driving employment and concludes there is one left: government hiring. Since government workers make up about half of the workforce, a very few are going to be working to pay for many. (via ProjectSyndicate)

Olivier Blanchard with part two of his discussion about managing a declining brand. Interesting and tart. (via TheBrandBuilder)