498 PART EIGHT THE DATA OF MACROECONOMICS “. . . IN A GIVEN PERIOD OF TIME.” GDP measures the value of production that takes place within a specific interval of time. Usually that interval is a year or a quarter (three months). GDP measures the economy’s flow of income and expenditure during that interval. When the government reports the GDP for a quarter, it usually presents GDP “at an annual rate.” This means that the figure reported for quarterly GDP is the amount of income and expenditure during the quarter multiplied by 4. The government uses this convention so that quarterly and annual figures on GDP can be compared more easily. In addition, when the government reports quarterly GDP, it presents the data after they have been modified by a statistical procedure called seasonal adjustment. The unadjusted data show clearly that the economy produces more goods and services during some times of year than during others. (As you might guess, December’s Christmas shopping season is a high point.) When monitoring the
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