Author Archives: Ted Kavadas

Long-Term Charts Of The ECRI WLI & ECRI WLI, Gr. – April 13, 2018 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 April 13, 2018 titled “ECRI Weekly Leading Index.”  These charts are on a weekly basis through the April 13, 2018 release, indicating data through April 6, 2018.

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.

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I post various economic indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site 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 2662.92 as this post is written

The April 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey

The April 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey was published on April 12, 2018.  The headline is “Powerful Forces Seen Restraining U.S. Pay Growth.”

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.

An excerpt:

A majority of the 60 economists surveyed this month by the Journal said three factors are meaningfully holding down readings on wage growth: low productivity growth, demographic changes, and foreign competition and globalization. Other possible explanations, such as hidden slack in the labor market or government regulation, were cited by fewer than half of forecasters.

As seen in the “Recession Probability” section, the average response as to the odds of another recession starting within the next 12 months was 15.33%. The individual estimates, of those who responded, ranged from 0% to 35%.  For reference, the average response in March’s survey was 13.66%.

As stated in the article, the survey’s respondents were 60 academic, financial and business economists.  Not every economist answered every question.  The survey was conducted April 6 – April 10, 2018.

The current average forecasts among economists polled include the following:

GDP:

full-year 2018:  2.8%

full-year 2019:  2.5%

full-year 2020:  2.0%

Unemployment Rate:

December 2018: 3.8%

December 2019: 3.6%

December 2020: 3.9%

10-Year Treasury Yield:

December 2018: 3.18%

December 2019: 3.49%

December 2020: 3.62%

CPI:

December 2018:  2.3%

December 2019:  2.3%

December 2020:  2.3%

Crude Oil  ($ per bbl):

for 12/31/2018: $62.06

for 12/31/2019: $61.20

for 12/31/2020: $61.54

(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 site 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 2663.99 as this 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 April 5, 2018 update (reflecting data through March 30, 2018) is -.919.

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 April 11, 2018 incorporating data from January 8, 1971 through April 6, 2018, on a weekly basis.  The April 6, 2018 value is -.73:

Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed April 11, 2018:

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

The ANFCI chart below was last updated on April 11, 2018 incorporating data from January 8,1971 through April 6, 2018, on a weekly basis.  The April 6 value is -.47:

Adjusted National Financial Conditions Index

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed April 11, 2018:

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 site 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 2653.73 as this post is written

The Yield Curve – April 11, 2018

Many people believe that the Yield Curve is an important economic indicator.

On March 1, 2010, I wrote a post on the issue, titled “The Yield Curve As A Leading Economic Indicator.”

An excerpt from that post:

On the NY Fed link above, they have posted numerous studies that support the theory that the yield curve is a leading indicator.   My objections with using it as a leading indicator, especially now, are various.  These objections include: I don’t think such a narrow measure is one that can be relied upon;  both the yields at the short and long-end of the curve have been overtly and officially manipulated, thus distorting the curve; and, although the yield curve may have been an accurate leading indicator in the past, this period of economic weakness is inherently dissimilar in nature from past recessions and depressions in a multitude of ways – thus, historical yardsticks and metrics probably won’t (and have not) proven appropriate.

While I continue to have the above-stated reservations regarding the “yield curve” as an indicator, I do believe that it should be monitored.

As an indication of the yield curve, below is a weekly chart from January 1, 1990 through April 10, 2018.  The top two plots show the 10-Year Treasury and 2-Year Treasury yields.  The third plot shows the (yield) spread between the 10-Year Treasury and 2-Year Treasury, with the April 10, 2018 closing value of .48%.  The bottom plot shows the S&P500:

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

Yield Curve with Subcomponents

Additionally, below is a chart showing the same spread between the 10-Year Treasury and 2-Year Treasury, albeit with a slightly different measurement, using constant maturity securities.  This daily chart is from June 1, 1976 through April 9, 2018 (updated April 10, 2018) with recessionary periods shown in gray. This chart shows a value of .49%:

U.S. Yield Curve proxy

source:  Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Minus 2-Year Treasury Constant Maturity [T10Y2Y], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed April 11, 2018:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/T10Y2Y

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2656.87 as this post is written

Four Charts Of Recent S&P500 Price Volatility – April 9, 2018

This post is an update to past posts regarding stock market volatility.

While I track many different measures of volatility, I find the following charts to be both simple and clear in depicting the recent volatility in the stock market.

Overall, my analyses indicates that there are many reasons for this volatility, and the volatility is highly significant.

First, a one-year daily depiction of the S&P500 through Friday’s (April 6, 2018) close, with a 50-day moving average (MA50) depicted by the blue line:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(charts courtesy of StockCharts.com)

S&P500 1-year Daily

Second, a three-month daily depiction of the S&P500 through Friday’s (April 6, 2018) close, with a 50-day moving average (MA50) depicted by the blue line:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart courtesy of StockCharts.com)

S&P500 3 month daily

Third, a three-month depiction of the S&P500 in 60-minute intervals through Friday’s (April 6, 2018) close, with a 50-hour moving average (MA50) depicted by the blue line:

S&P500 60-minute chart

Fourth, a one-month depiction of the S&P500 in 10-minute intervals through Friday’s (April 6, 2018) close, with a 50-period moving average (MA50) depicted by the blue line:

S&P500 1 month 10 minute intervals

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2604.47 as this post is written

Building Financial Danger – April 9, 2018 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 April 6, 2018 with a last price of 2604.47), 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

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2604.47 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 = $26.82):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 4-6-18)

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 April 6, 2018:

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 4-6-18)

CES0500000003 Percent Change From Year Ago

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 = $22.42):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 4-6-18)

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 April 6, 2018:

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 4-6-18)

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 site 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 2604.43 this post is written

U-3 And U-6 Unemployment Rate Long-Term Reference Charts As Of April 6, 2018

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 4.1% unemployment rate:

(click on charts to enlarge images)(charts updated as of 4-6-18)

U-3 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 April 6, 2018;

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

Here is the U-6 chart, currently showing a 8.0% unemployment rate:

U-6 Unemployment 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 April 6, 2018;

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

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2635.03 as this post is written

3 Critical Unemployment Charts – April 2018

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 = 9.1 weeks):

(click on charts to enlarge images)(charts updated as of 4-6-18)

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 April 6, 2018;

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

Here is the chart for Unemployed 27 Weeks and Over (current value = 1.322 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 April 6, 2018;

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

Here is the chart for Total Nonfarm Payrolls (current value = 148.230 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 April 6, 2018;

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 page titled “U.S. Unemployment Trends,” which discusses various problematical issues concerning the present and future employment situation.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2651.46 as this post is written

CEO Confidence Surveys 1Q 2018 – Notable Excerpts

On April 5, 2018, The Conference Board released the 1st Quarter Measure Of CEO Confidence.   The overall measure of CEO Confidence was at 65, up from 63 in the fourth quarter. [note:  a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses]

Notable excerpts from this April 5 Press Release include:

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions was slightly more positive, with 75 percent saying conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 71 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. CEOs were also moderately more optimistic in their appraisal of current conditions in their own industries. Now, 51 percent say conditions in their own industries have improved, up from 49 percent last quarter.

Looking ahead, CEOs’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook was significantly better. Now, 63 percent expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, compared to just 47 percent last quarter. CEOs, however, were only slightly more upbeat about short-term prospects in their own industries over the next six months, with 43 percent anticipating conditions will improve, versus 41 percent last quarter.

The Business Roundtable last month also released its CEO Economic Outlook Survey for the 1st Quarter of 2018.   Notable excerpts from the March 13, 2018 release, titled “Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index Reaches Highest Level in Survey’s 15-Year History“:

The Business Roundtable Q1 2018 CEO Economic Outlook Index – a composite of CEO projections for sales and plans for capital spending and hiring over the next six months – increased to 118.6 in the first quarter of 2018, the highest level since the survey began in the fourth quarter of 2002. The survey was conducted between February 7 and February 26, 2018. Results reflect renewed CEO optimism and confidence following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but do not capture effects of President Trump’s March 8, 2018, announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs.

The Q1 2018 Index exceeded its previous high point of 113 in 2011. The Index has significantly surpassed its historical average level of 81.2.

All three components of the Index reached record highs, signaling a positive direction for the U.S economy.

  • CEO plans for hiring rose to 98.5, up 22.8 from the previous quarter.
  • Plans for capital investment rose to 115.4, up 22.7 from Q4 2017.
  • Expectations for sales reached 141.9, an increase of 19.9 from the last quarter.

In their second estimate for GDP in 2018, CEOs project 2.8 percent GDP growth for the year, compared to the previous quarter’s estimate of 2.5 percent for the year.

Additional details can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site 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 2662.84 as this post is written