Later this year, the Commerce Dept. will recalibrate its yardstick for measuring gross national product from a 1982 base to a 1987 base-an adjustment that it says is likely to convert its current preliminary estimate that the economy declined at a 0.1% pace in the second quarter to an estimate that it expanded at a 0.8% rate. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the prognosis for economic recovery improved.
Economist Philip Braverman of DKP Securities Corp. notes that "most of the basic constituents of gnp actually look weaker on a 1987 base." Personal-consumption expenditures, for example, are up at a 2.4% rate, instead of 2.8%. Nonresidential fixed investment falls at a 4.3% clip, rather than 1.8%, while government purchases and exports rise 1.4% and 3.5%, respectively, rather than 3% and 4.5%. "The major cause of the upward revision," says Braverman, "is a sharp drop in imports, hardly a sign of underlying economic strength."