Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – January 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Throughout this site there are many discussions of economic indicators.  At this time, the readings of various indicators are especially notable.  This post is the latest in a series of posts indicating U.S. economic weakness or a notably low growth rate.

While many U.S. economic indicators – including GDP – are indicating economic growth, others depict (or imply) various degrees of weak growth or economic contraction.  As seen in the December 2019 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 2.2% GDP growth in 2019 and 1.8% GDP growth in 2020.  However, there are other broad-based economic indicators that seem to imply a weaker growth rate.

As well, it should be remembered that GDP figures can be (substantially) revised.

Charts Indicating U.S. Economic Weakness

Below are a small sampling of charts that depict weak growth or contraction, and a brief comment for each:

Total Federal Receipts

“Total Federal Receipts” growth continues to be intermittent in nature since 2015.  As well, the level of growth does not seem congruent to the (recent) levels of economic growth as seen in aggregate measures such as Real GDP.

“Total Federal Receipts” through December had a last monthly value of $335,805 Million.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 7.4%, last updated January 13, 2020:

Total Federal Receipts Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 13, 2020:  
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Value of Manufacturers’ New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries (ACOGNO)

A measure for consumer goods exhibiting a recent weakening (on a YoY basis) growth trend is the “Value of Manufacturers’ New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries” (ACOGNO). Shown below is this measure with last value of $212,644 Million through November (last updated January 7, 2020):

Value of Manufacturers' New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries (ACOGNO)

Below is this ACOGNO measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value of .6%:

Value Of Manufacturers' New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Census Bureau, Value of Manufacturers’ New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries [ACOGNO], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 7, 2020:  https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/ACOGNO

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Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing (AWOTMAN)

Various U.S. manufacturing measures continue to indicate either a significant weakening in growth or a decline in various aspects of activity. An indication of weakening manufacturing activity is overtime hours. Shown below is the “Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing” measure (with last value of 4.2 hours through December) displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -6.7%, last updated January 10, 2020:

Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing Percent Change From Year Ago

source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing [AWOTMAN], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 13, 2019: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/AWOTMAN

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Motor Vehicle Retail Sales: Heavy Weight Trucks (HTRUCKSSA)

Sales of “Heavy Weight Trucks” (HTRUCKSSA) are once again contracting on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis. Shown below is this measure with last value of 38.499 Thousand through November, last updated December 20, 2019:

Heavy Weight Trucks sales

Below is this measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -7.8%:

Heavy Weight Truck Sales Percent Change From Year Ago

source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Motor Vehicle Retail Sales: Heavy Weight Trucks [HTRUCKSSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 7, 2020: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/HTRUCKSSA

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Other Indicators

As mentioned previously, many other indicators discussed on this site indicate economic weakness or economic contraction, if not outright (gravely) problematical economic conditions.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 3288.13 as this post is written