NFIB Small Business Optimism – May 2017

The May NFIB Small Business Optimism report was released today, June 13, 2017. The headline of the Small Business Economic Trends report is “Small Business Optimism Continues Remarkable Surge.”

The Index of Small Business Optimism was unchanged in May at 104.5.

Here are some excerpts that I find particularly notable (but don’t necessarily agree with):

“The remarkable surge in optimism that began last year right after the election shows no signs of slowing down” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Small business owners are highly encouraged by the President’s regulatory reform agenda, and they remain optimistic there will be tax reform and health-care reform. This is a policy-driven phenomenon.”

The Index for May matched its strong performance in April of 104.5. That means the Index has been at a historically high level for six straight months. Five of the Index components posted a gain, four declined, and one remained unchanged.

also:

A strong majority of owners, 59 percent, reported hiring or trying to hire in May, although 51 percent said they found few or no qualified workers. Remarkably, that was a problem for 86 percent of owners who said they tried to hire. Nineteen percent of all owners in the survey said finding qualified workers was their top concern, making it the second-biggest problem for small business.

“The tight labor market has been a persistent problem for small business owners for the past several months, and the problem appears to be getting worse,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “It’s forcing small business owners to increase compensation, which we’re seeing in this data, to attract new workers and keep the ones they have. But it also means a lot of small business owners are short-handed. They can’t keep up with customer demand because the labor pool isn’t producing enough qualified workers. It’s a significant structural problem in the economy that policymakers will have to watch.”

Twenty-eight percent reported plans to make capital outlays, a one-point gain from April but well below historical levels for periods of growth.

also:

Credit Markets

Only 3 percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied, unchanged and historically very low. Thirty-one percent reported all credit needs met (down 1 point), and 51 percent explicitly said they did not want a loan. Only 1 percent reported that financing was their top business problem compared to 22 percent citing taxes, 19 percent citing the availability of qualified labor, and 13 percent regulations and red tape. Twenty-eight percent of all owners reported borrowing on a regular basis (down 3 points). The average rate paid on short maturity loans was up 50 basis points to 5.9 percent.

Here is a chart of the NFIB Small Business Optimism chart, as seen in the June 13 Doug Short post titled “NFIB Small Business Survey:  Index Continues Surge in May“:

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

Further details regarding small business conditions can be seen in the full May 2017 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends (pdf) report.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2439.33 as this post is written

Deflation Probabilities – June 8, 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 2022.

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 June 8, 2017 update states the following:

The 2017–22 deflation probability was 6 percent on June 7, unchanged from May 31. The 2016–21 deflation probability was 2 percent on June 7, up from 1 percent on May 31. These 2016–21 and 2017–22 deflation probabilities, measuring the likelihoods of net declines in the consumer price index over the five-year periods starting in early 2016 and early 2017, are estimated from prices of the five-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) issued in April 2016 and April 2017 and the 10-year TIPS issued in July 2011 and July 2012.

_________

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 2425.42 this post is written

The June 2017 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey

The June 2017 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey was published on June 8, 2017.  The headline is “Unresolved U.S. Debt Ceiling Casts a Shadow Over Many Forecasters’ Economic Outlooks.”

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:

Forecasters in The Wall Street Journal’s monthly survey have raised their assessments of the risk facing the U.S. economy. For the first time since the presidential election, a majority of economists in the survey are concerned the economy could do worse than forecast.

As seen in the “Recession Probability” section, the average response as to the odds of another recession starting within the next 12 months was 15.80%. The individual estimates, of those who responded, ranged from 0% to 33%.  For reference, the average response in May’s survey was 15.27%.

As stated in the article, the survey’s respondents were 60 academic, financial and business economists.  Not every economist answered every question.  The survey occurred on June 2, 2017 to June 6, 2017.

The current average forecasts among economists polled include the following:

GDP:

full-year 2017:  2.3%

full-year 2018:  2.4%

full-year 2019:  2.0%

Unemployment Rate:

December 2017: 4.3%

December 2018: 4.1%

December 2019: 4.3%

10-Year Treasury Yield:

December 2017: 2.66%

December 2018: 3.20%

December 2019: 3.57%

CPI:

December 2017:  2.1%

December 2018:  2.3%

December 2019:  2.3%

Crude Oil  ($ per bbl):

for 12/31/2017: $50.95

for 12/31/2018: $53.31

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

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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 2426.92 as post is written

Long-Term Charts Of The ECRI WLI & ECRI WLI, Gr. – June 9, 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 June 9, 2017 titled “ECRI Weekly Leading Index…”  These charts are on a weekly basis through the June 9, 2017 release, indicating data through June 2, 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 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 2445.64 as this post is written

Total Household Net Worth As Of 1Q 2017 – Two Long-Term Charts

In the last post (“Total Household Net Worth As A Percent Of GDP 1Q 2017“) I displayed a long-term chart depicting Total Household Net Worth as a percentage of GDP.

For reference purposes, here is Total Household Net Worth from a long-term perspective (from 1945:Q4 through 2017:Q1).  The last value (as of the June 8, 2017 update) is $94.83540 Trillion:

(click on each chart to enlarge image)

Total Household Net Worth

Also of interest is the same metric presented on a “Percent Change from a Year Ago” basis:

Total Household Net Worth Percent Change From Year Ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; accessed June 9, 2017:

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

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2445.05 as this post is written

Total Household Net Worth As A Percent Of GDP 1Q 2017

The following chart is from the CalculatedRisk post of June 8, 2017 titled “Fed’s Flow of Funds:  Household Net Worth increased in Q4.” It depicts Total Household Net Worth as a Percent of GDP.  The underlying data is from the Federal Reserve’s Z.1 report, “Financial Accounts of the United States“:

(click on chart to enlarge image)

Total Household Net Worth As A Percent Of GDP

As seen in the above-referenced CalculatedRisk post:

Household net worth was at $94.8 trillion in Q1 2017, up from $92.5 trillion in Q4 2016.

The Fed estimated that the value of household real estate increased to $23.5 trillion in Q1. The value of household real estate is now above the bubble peak in early 2006 – but not adjusted for inflation, and this also includes new construction.

As I have written in previous posts concerning this Household Net Worth (as a percent of GDP) topic:

As one can see, the first outsized peak was in 2000, and attained after the stock market bull market / stock market bubbles and economic strength.  The second outsized peak was in 2007, right near the peak of the housing bubble as well as near the stock market peak.

also:

I could extensively write about various interpretations that can be made from this chart.  One way this chart can be interpreted is a gauge of “what’s in it for me?” as far as the aggregated wealth citizens are gleaning from economic activity, as measured compared to GDP.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2431.56 as this post is written

Building Financial Danger – June 8, 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 June 7, 2017 with a last price of 2433.14), 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 daily since 2008

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2429.31 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 June 1, 2017 update (reflecting data through May 26, 2017) is -1.546.

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 June 7, 2017 incorporating data from January 5,1973 through June 2, 2017, on a weekly basis.  The June 2, 2017 value is -.82:

NFCI

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 7, 2017:

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

The ANFCI chart below was last updated on June 7, 2017 incorporating data from January 5,1973 through June 2, 2017, on a weekly basis.  The June 2 value is -.41:

ANFCI

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 7, 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 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 2431.94 as this post is written

June 6, 2017 Gallup Poll Results On Economic Confidence – Notable Excerpts

On June 6, 2017 Gallup released the poll results titled “Confidence In Economy in May Lowest Since November 2016.”

Notable excerpts include:

Though still historically high, Americans’ confidence in the economy fell to a six-month low in May, largely dragged down by Democrats’ worsening economic attitudes. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaged a score of +3 in May, down slightly from April (+5) but eight points below January’s record monthly high (+11).

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they believe the economy is improving or getting worse. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 if all Americans were to say the economy is doing well and improving, and a theoretical minimum of -100 if all were to say the economy is doing poorly and getting worse.

also:

Even as some Americans become more pessimistic about the economy overall, attitudes about the economy’s current conditions have been relatively stable. Last month, 32% of Americans assessed the economy as “excellent” or “good,” while 22% said the economy was “poor.” Overall, the current conditions component averaged +10 in May, similar to +11 in April and three points shy of the nine-year high (+13) the measure hit in February and March.

Meanwhile, perceptions about the economy’s outlook have more clearly deteriorated. In May, slightly more Americans (49%) said the economy was “getting worse” than said it was “getting better” (45%). The economic outlook component stood at -4 for the month, representing a slight dip from April when the component averaged -1, and it is down notably from its record high in January of +11.

Here is an accompanying chart of the two components of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index, discussed above:

Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Index Components

Here is an accompanying chart of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index:

Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Index - Monthly Averages

 

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2429.33 as this post is written

Recession Probability Models – June 2017

There are a variety of economic models that are supposed to predict the probabilities of recession.

While I don’t agree with the methodologies employed or probabilities of impending economic weakness as depicted by the following two models, I think the results of these models should be monitored.

Please note that each of these models is updated regularly, and the results of these – as well as other recession models – can fluctuate significantly.

The first is the “Yield Curve as a Leading Indicator” from the New York Federal Reserve.  I wrote a post concerning this measure on March 1, 2010, titled “The Yield Curve as a Leading Indicator.”

Currently (last updated June 2, 2017 using data through May) this “Yield Curve” model shows a 7.8283% probability of a recession in the United States twelve months ahead.  For comparison purposes, it showed a 7.0143% probability through April, and a chart going back to 1960 is seen at the “Probability Of U.S. Recession Predicted by Treasury Spread.” (pdf)

The second model is from Marcelle Chauvet and Jeremy Piger.  This model is described on the St. Louis Federal Reserve site (FRED) as follows:

Smoothed recession probabilities for the United States are obtained from a dynamic-factor markov-switching model applied to four monthly coincident variables: non-farm payroll employment, the index of industrial production, real personal income excluding transfer payments, and real manufacturing and trade sales. This model was originally developed in Chauvet, M., “An Economic Characterization of Business Cycle Dynamics with Factor Structure and Regime Switching,” International Economic Review, 1998, 39, 969-996. (http://faculty.ucr.edu/~chauvet/ier.pdf)

Additional details and explanations can be seen on the “U.S. Recession Probabilities” page.

This model, last updated on June 1, 2017, currently shows a .48% probability using data through March.

Here is the FRED chart (last updated June 1, 2017):

Probability of U.S. Recession

Data Source:  Piger, Jeremy Max and Chauvet, Marcelle, Smoothed U.S. Recession Probabilities [RECPROUSM156N], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed June 5, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/RECPROUSM156N

The two models featured above can be compared against measures seen in recent blog posts.  For instance, as seen in the May 11 post titled “The May 2017 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey“ economists surveyed averaged a 15.27% probability of a U.S. recession within the next 12 months.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2436.10 as this post is written