Disturbing Charts (Update 25)

I find the following charts to be disturbing.   These charts would be disturbing at any point in the economic cycle; that they (on average) depict such a tenuous situation now – 91 months after the official (as per the September 20, 2010 NBER BCDC announcement) June 2009 end of the recession – is especially notable.

These charts raise a lot of questions.  As well, they highlight the “atypical” nature of our economic situation from a long-term historical perspective.

All of these charts are from the Federal Reserve, and represent the most recently updated data.

(click on charts to enlarge images)

Housing starts (last updated 12-16-16):

Housing Starts

US. Bureau of the Census, Housing Starts: Total: New Privately Owned Housing Units Started [HOUST], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/HOUST/, January 16, 2017.

The Federal Deficit (last updated 1-9-17):

The Federal Deficit

US. Office of Management and Budget, Federal Surplus or Deficit [-] [FYFSD], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FYFSD/, January 16, 2017.

Federal Net Outlays (last updated 1-9-17):

Federal Outlays

US. Office of Management and Budget, Federal Net Outlays [FYONET], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FYONET/, January 16, 2017.

State & Local Personal Income Tax Receipts  (% Change from Year Ago)(last updated 7-29-16):

US. Bureau of Economic Analysis, State and local government current tax receipts: Personal current taxes: Income taxes [ASLPITAX], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/ASLPITAX/, January 16, 2017.

Total Loans and Leases of Commercial Banks (% Change from Year Ago)(last updated 1-13-17):

total loans and leases

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Loans and Leases in Bank Credit, All Commercial Banks [TOTLL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/TOTLL/, January 16, 2017.

Bank Credit – All Commercial Banks (% Change from Year Ago)(last updated 1-13-17):

Total Bank Credit percent change from year ago

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Bank Credit of All Commercial Banks [TOTBKCR], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/TOTBKCR/, January 16, 2017.

M1 Money Multiplier (last updated 1-12-17):

M1 Money Multiplier

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, M1 Money Multiplier [MULT], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/MULT/, January 16, 2017.

Median Duration of Unemployment (last updated 1-6-17):

Median Duration Of Unemployment

US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Median Duration of Unemployment [UEMPMED], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/UEMPMED/, January 16, 2017.

Labor Force Participation Rate (last updated 1-6-17):

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate

US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate [CIVPART], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CIVPART/, January 16, 2017.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3-month moving average (CFNAI-MA3)(last updated 12-22-16):

CFNAI-MA3

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago Fed National Activity Index: Three Month Moving Average [CFNAIMA3], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CFNAIMA3/, January 16, 2017.

I will continue to update these charts on an intermittent basis as they deserve close monitoring…

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2274.64 as this post is written

Long-Term Charts Of The ECRI WLI & ECRI WLI, Gr. – January 13, 2017 Update

As I stated in my July 12, 2010 post (“ECRI WLI Growth History“):

For a variety of reasons, I am not as enamored with ECRI’s WLI and WLI Growth measures as many are.

However, I do think the measures are important and deserve close monitoring and scrutiny.

Below are three long-term charts, from Doug Short’s ECRI update post of January 13, 2017 titled “ECRI Weekly Leading Index: ‘2016 Shapes 2017 Cyclical Outlook.’”  These charts are on a weekly basis through the January 13, 2017 release, indicating data through January 6, 2017.

Here is the ECRI WLI (defined at ECRI’s glossary):

ECRI WLI

This next chart depicts, on a long-term basis, the Year-over-Year change in the 4-week moving average of the WLI:

This last chart depicts, on a long-term basis, the WLI, Gr.:

ECRI WLI,Gr.

_________

I post various economic indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2273.58 as this post is written

The January 2017 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey

The January 2017 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey was published on January 12, 2017.  The headline is “Forecasters See Upside Risks to Their Economic Outlooks at Highest in More Than Two Years.”

I found numerous items to be notable – although I don’t necessarily agree with them – both within the article and in the “Economist Q&A” section.

Two excerpts:

In the most recent survey, 64% of respondents said the risk was to the upside, the highest in over two years, and a reversal from the mood of recent years, which was focused on potential risks from a global economic slowdown.

also:

In anticipation of Mr. Trump’s presidency, economic forecasts have already risen. The average forecast is for GDP growth of 2.4% in 2017 and 2.5% in 2018. That is a 0.2 percentage point increase for 2017 and 0.5 percentage point for 2018.

As stated in the article, the survey’s respondents were 67 academic, financial and business economists.  Not every economist answered every question.  The survey occurred on January 6, 2017 to January 10, 2017.

As seen in the “Recession Probability” section, the average response as to the odds of another recession starting within the next 12 months was 16.49%. The individual estimates, of those who responded, ranged from 0% to 75%.  For reference, the average response in December’s survey was 16.79%.

The current average forecasts among economists polled include the following:

GDP:

full-year 2016:  2.0%

full-year 2017:  2.4%

full-year 2018:  2.5%

full-year 2019:  2.2%

Unemployment Rate:

December 2017: 4.5%

December 2018: 4.4%

December 2019: 4.5%

10-Year Treasury Yield:

December 2017: 2.89%

December 2018: 3.36%

CPI:

December 2017:  2.3%

December 2018:  2.4%

Crude Oil  ($ per bbl):

for 12/31/2017: $56.31

for 12/31/2018: $59.28

(note: I highlight this WSJ Economic Forecast survey each month; commentary on past surveys can be found under the “Economic Forecasts” category)

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2270.44 as post is written

Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI)

The St. Louis Fed’s Financial Stress Index (STLFSI) is one index that is supposed to measure stress in the financial system.  Its reading as of the January 5, 2017 update (reflecting data through December 30, 2016) is -1.148.

Of course, there are a variety of other measures and indices that are supposed to measure financial stress and other related issues, both from the Federal Reserve as well as from private sources.

Two other indices that I regularly monitor include the Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) as well as the Chicago Fed Adjusted National Financial Conditions Index (ANFCI).

Here are summary descriptions of each, as seen in FRED:

The National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) measures risk, liquidity and leverage in money markets and debt and equity markets as well as in the traditional and “shadow” banking systems. Positive values of the NFCI indicate financial conditions that are tighter than average, while negative values indicate financial conditions that are looser than average.

The adjusted NFCI (ANFCI). This index isolates a component of financial conditions uncorrelated with economic conditions to provide an update on how financial conditions compare with current economic conditions.

For further information, please visit the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s web site:

http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/publications/nfci/index.cfm

Below are the most recently updated charts of the NFCI and ANFCI, respectively.

The NFCI chart below was last updated on January 11, 2017 incorporating data from January 5,1973 through January 6, 2017, on a weekly basis.  The January 6, 2017 value is -.77:

NFCI

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 11, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/NFCI

The ANFCI chart below was last updated on January 11, 2017 incorporating data from January 5,1973 through January 6, 2017, on a weekly basis.  The January 6 value is -.17:

ANFCI

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 11, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/ANFCI

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2271.63 as this post is written

Low Interest Rates And The Formation Of Asset Bubbles

The existence of asset bubbles continues to be among the most critical – and troubling – characteristics of the current-era U.S. economy.  I have written extensively on the subject for a number of reasons, including its monumental importance as well as its poorly understood nature.

There are many theories as to why asset bubbles form.  My own thoughts on the matter are highly complex, especially concerning the current-era bubbles.

One common theory as to why asset bubbles form is the existence of (ultra-) low interest rates.  I have discussed this facet previously, including in the December 2, 2009 post titled “Bubbles.”

One prominent way to measure as to whether interest rates are “abnormally low” is by comparing rates – typically the “Fed Funds” rate – to the rate implied by the “Taylor Rule.”  A simple description of that rule can be seen in the December 20, 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed (“The Case for a Rules-Based Fed“) written by John B. Taylor, creator of the Taylor Rule.  An excerpt:

Mr. Kashkari’s argument against rules-based strategies focuses on the “Taylor rule,” which emerged from my research in the 1970s and ’80s and has been used in virtually every country in the world. The rule calls for central banks to increase interest rates by a certain amount when price inflation rises and to decrease interest rates by a certain amount when the economy goes into a recession.

While my thoughts on the “Taylor Rule” are complex and aren’t suitably discussed in a brief manner, I will say that I don’t necessarily agree with its theoretical framework and/or the methodologies employed, or implications.  However, I do think that its current readings are both notable and informative.  Among notable aspects, one can clearly see that the Fed Funds rate has been far below the “Taylor Rule” prescription for a protracted time period.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta provides detailed information concerning the “Taylor Rule,” which includes the chart shown below.  One should note that the readings are influenced by a number of assumptions, and thus it is both possible and likely that the readings of the model can change significantly with changes in the assumptions.

The chart below is updated through December 22, 2016:

Taylor Rule chart

 

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2270.16 as this post is written

Building Financial Danger – January 9, 2017 Update

My overall analysis indicates a continuing elevated and growing level of financial danger which contains many worldwide and U.S.-specific “stresses” of a very complex nature. I have written numerous posts in this site concerning both ongoing and recent “negative developments.”  These developments, as well as other exceedingly problematic conditions, have presented a highly perilous economic environment that endangers the overall financial system.

Also of ongoing immense importance is the existence of various immensely large asset bubbles, a subject of which I have extensively written.  While all of these asset bubbles are wildly pernicious and will have profound adverse future implications, hazards presented by the bond market bubble are especially notable.

Predicting the specific timing and extent of a stock market crash is always difficult, and the immense complexity of today’s economic situation makes such a prediction even more challenging. With that being said, my analyses continue to indicate that a near-term exceedingly large (from an ultra-long term perspective) stock market crash – that would also involve (as seen in 2008) various other markets as well – will occur.

(note: the “next crash” and its aftermath has great significance and implications, as discussed in the post of January 6, 2012 titled “The Next Crash And Its Significance“ and various subsequent posts in the “Economic Depression” category)

As reference, below is a daily chart since 2008 of the S&P500 (through January 6, 2017 with a last price of 2276.98), depicted on a LOG scale, indicating both the 50dma and 200dma as well as price labels:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart courtesy of StockCharts.com; chart creation and annotation by the author)

S&P500 since 2008

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2276.98 as this post is written

Average Hourly Earnings Trends

I have written many blog posts concerning the worrisome trends in income and earnings.

Along these lines, one of the measures showing disconcerting trends is that of hourly earnings.

While the concept of hourly earnings can be defined and measured in a variety of ways, below are a few charts that I believe broadly illustrate problematic trends.

The first chart depicts Average Hourly Earnings Of All Employees: Total Private (FRED series CES0500000003)(current value = $26.00):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 1-6-17)

CES0500000003

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average Hourly Earnings of All Employees:  Total Private [CES0500000003] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed January 6, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CES0500000003

This next chart depicts this same measure on a “Percentage Change From A Year Ago” basis.   While not totally surprising, I find the decline from 2009 and subsequent trend to be disconcerting:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 1-6-17)

CES0500000003

There are slightly different measures available from a longer-term perspective. Pictured below is another measure, the Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees – Total Private (FRED series AHETPI)(current value = $21.80):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 1-6-17)

AHETPI

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees:  Total Private [AHETPI] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics;  accessed January 6, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/AHETPI

Pictured below is this AHETPI measure on a “Percentage Change From A Year Ago” basis.   While not totally surprising, I find the decline from 2009 and subsequent trend to be disconcerting:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 1-6-17)

AHETPI percent change from year ago

I will continue to actively monitor these trends, especially given the post-2009 dynamics.

_________

I post various economic indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2279.44 this post is written

U-3 And U-6 Unemployment Rate Long-Term Reference Charts As Of January 6, 2017

Shortly after each monthly employment report I have been posting a continual series titled “3 Critical Unemployment Charts.”

Of course, there are many other employment charts that can be displayed as well.

For reference purposes, below are the U-3 and U-6 Unemployment Rate charts from a long-term historical perspective.  Both charts are from the St. Louis Fed site.  The U-3 measure is what is commonly referred to as the official unemployment rate; whereas the U-6 rate is officially (per Bureau of Labor Statistics) defined as:

Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

Of note, many economic observers use the U-6 rate as a (closer) proxy of the actual unemployment rate rather than that depicted by the U-3 measure.

Here is the U-3 chart, currently showing a 4.7% unemployment rate:

(click on charts to enlarge images)(charts updated as of 1-6-17)

unemployment rate

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Civilian Unemployment Rate [UNRATE] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed January 6, 2017;

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/UNRATE

Here is the U-6 chart, currently showing a 9.2% unemployment rate:

U-6 Rate

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons  [U6RATE] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed January 6, 2017;

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/U6RATE

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2281.09 as this post is written

3 Critical Unemployment Charts – January 2017

As I have commented previously, as in the October 6, 2009 post (“A Note About Unemployment Statistics”), in my opinion the official methodologies used to measure the various job loss and unemployment statistics do not provide an accurate depiction; they serve to understate the severity of unemployment.

However, even if one chooses to look at the official statistics, the following charts provide an interesting (and disconcerting) long-term perspective of certain aspects of the officially-stated unemployment (and, in the third chart, employment) situation.

The three charts below are from the St. Louis Fed site.  Here is the Median Duration of Unemployment (current value = 10.3 weeks):

(click on charts to enlarge images)(charts updated as of 1-6-17)

median duration of unemployment

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Median Duration of Unemployment [UEMPMED] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed January 6, 2017;

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/UEMPMED

Here is the chart for Unemployed 27 Weeks and Over (current value = 1.831 million):

unemployed 27 weeks and over

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Civilians Unemployed for 27 Weeks and Over [UEMP27OV] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed January 6, 2017;

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/UEMP27OV

Here is the chart for Total Nonfarm Payroll (current value = 145.303 million):

total nonfarm payrolls

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: All Employees: Total nonfarm [PAYEMS] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed January 6, 2017;

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PAYEMS

Our unemployment problem is severe.  The underlying dynamics of the current – and especially future – unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome.    These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding.

My commentary regarding unemployment is generally found in the “Unemployment” category.  This commentary includes the April 24, 2012 five-part post titled “The Unemployment Situation Facing The United States”, which discusses various problematical issues concerning the present and future employment situation.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2266.50 as this post is written

Deflation Probabilities – January 5, 2017 Update

While I do not agree with the current readings of the measure – I think the measure dramatically understates the probability of deflation, as measured by the CPI – the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta maintains an interesting data series titled “Deflation Probabilities.”

As stated on the site:

Using estimates derived from Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) markets, described in a technical appendix, this weekly report provides two measures of the probability of consumer price index (CPI) deflation through 2021.

A chart shows the trends of the probabilities.  As one can see in the chart, the readings are volatile.

As for the current weekly reading, the January 5, 2017 update states the following:

The 2016–21 deflation probability was 5 percent on January 4, up from 3 percent on December 21. The 2015–20 deflation probability remained at 0 percent. These 2015–20 and 2016–21 deflation probabilities, measuring the likelihoods of net declines in the consumer price index over the five-year periods starting in early 2015 and early 2016, are estimated from prices of the five-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) issued in April 2015 and April 2016 and the 10-year TIPS issued in July 2010 and July 2011.

_________

I post various economic indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2269.02 this post is written