Tag Archives: economic weakness

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – November 2018

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 October 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 3.1% GDP growth in 2018 and 2.4% GDP growth in 2019.  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 October had a last value of $252,692 Million.  Shown below is  the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 7.4%, last updated November 13, 2018:

Monthly Treasury Receipts

source:  U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed November 13, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Real Hourly Earnings

The level and growth rates of wages and household earnings continues to be (highly) problematical.  I have extensively discussed these worrisome trends in income and earnings.

As seen in many measures the problem is chronic (i.e long-term) in nature.

Shown below is a chart depicting the 12-month percent change in real average weekly earnings for all employees from January 2008 – September 2018.  As seen in the chart below, growth in this measure over the time period depicted has been intermittent, volatile, and, especially since 2017, weak:

U.S. Real Average Weekly Earnings

source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Real average weekly earnings increase 1.1 percent, September 2017 to September 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/real-average-weekly-earnings-increase-1-point-1-percent-september-2017-to-september-2018.htm(visited November 09, 2018).

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Unemployment

I have written extensively concerning unemployment, as the current and future unemployment issue is of tremendous importance.

The consensus belief is that employment is robust, citing total nonfarm payroll growth and the current unemployment rate of 3.7%.  However, my analyses continue to indicate that the conclusion that employment is strong is incorrect.  While the unemployment rate indicates that unemployment is (very) low, closer examination indicates that this metric is, for a number of reasons, highly misleading.

My analyses indicate that the underlying dynamics of the unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome, especially with regard to the future.  These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding, especially as how from an “all-things-considered” standpoint they will evolve in an economic and societal manner.  I have recently written of the current and future U.S. employment situation on the “U.S. Employment Trends” page.

While there are many charts that can be shown, one that depicts a worrisome trend is the  Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate for those with a Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over.  Among disconcerting aspects of this measure is the long-term (most notably the post-2009) trend, especially given this demographic segment.

The current value as of the November 2, 2018 update (reflecting data through the October employment report) is 73.4%:

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor's Degree and Higher, 25 years and over

source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over [LNS11327662], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed November 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11327662

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New Home Sales

For numerous economic reasons, the number and price of homes sales, especially new home sales, is a very important aspect of the U.S. economy.

As an indication for the overall health of the overall new home sales market, below is the Dow Jones Home Construction Index, depicted on a weekly basis, LOG scale, from the year 2000 through the closing price of 635.79 on November 13, 2018.  As one can see, the latest peak was on January 24, 2018 at 1008.89:

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

DJUSHB Weekly chart since 2000

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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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2722.18 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – October 2018

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 October 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 3.1% GDP growth in 2018 and 2.4% GDP growth in 2019.  However,  as discussed below, 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.

One GDP-based measure that is notable is that of the GDPplus measure from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Shown below is the most recent update (from September 27, reflecting the GDP release for the 2nd Quarter of 2018, 3rd Estimate).  Of note is the divergence between the Real GDP (4.1%*, shown in orange) and the GDPplus measure (2.0%*, shown in light blue):

GDPplus

* the quarter-over-quarter growth rate in continuously compounded annualized percentage points

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Other 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:

The Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index)

While the 2nd quarter GDP (3rd Estimate)(pdf) was 4.2%, there are other broad-based economic indicators that seem to imply a weaker growth rate.

Among the broad-based economic indicators that imply weaker growth is that of the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index.)  Below is a two-year chart of the index through October 6, 2018, with a value of -.0323, as of the October 11 update:

ADS Index 2 years as of 10-11-18 update

source:  Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index)

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Auto Sales

As discussed in previous posts, I believe that many factors indicate that auto sales have peaked.  While this peaking will have extensive economic implications, there are many other factors concerning auto sales that are worrisome.  While an exhaustive discussion of the topic would be exceedingly lengthy, various notable factors include the degree to which (ultra-) cheap financing and relaxed financing terms are aiding sales, as well as various aspects of pricing and discounting.

Shown below is a 3-year chart showing the performance of various auto stocks.  As one can see, there has been consistent weakness in these stocks (generally) since the beginning of 2018:

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

auto stocks price charts 3 years

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Vehicle Miles Traveled

I continue to find the flagging growth trend in the “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (NSA) measure since 2015 to be notable.

“Vehicle Miles Traveled” through August had a last value of 286,654 Million.  Shown below is  the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 1.2%, last updated October 12, 2018:

TRFVOLUSM227NFWA_10-12-18 286654 1.2 Percent Change From Year Ago

source:   U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Vehicle Miles Traveled [TRFVOLUSM227NFWA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed October 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TRFVOLUSM227NFWA

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Underperformance Of Consumer Staples Stocks

In the March 23, 2017 post (“‘Hidden’ Weakness In Consumer Spending?“) I wrote of various indications that consumer spending may be (substantially) less than what is depicted by various mainstream indicators, including overall retail sales.

One recent development that appears to be an indication of problems in consumer spending is the performance of the consumer staples stocks.  As one can see in the chart below, there has been a marked relative weakness in these stocks (with the XLP serving as a proxy).  The chart shows a 10-year daily depiction of the XLP (top plot), the S&P500 (middle plot) and XLP:S&P500 ratio (bottom plot.)  While there can be various interpretations and reasons for this underperformance, it does appear to represent a “red flag” especially considering other problematical indications concerning consumer spending:

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

XLP v SPX 10 years

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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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2767.13 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – September 2018

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 September 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 3.1% GDP growth in 2018 and 2.4% GDP growth in 2019.  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.

Among the broad-based economic indicators that have been implying weaker growth or mild contraction is the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI).

The August 2018 Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) updated as of August 27, 2018:

The CFNAI, with current reading of .13:

CFNAI_8-27-18 .13

source:  Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago Fed National Activity Index [CFNAI], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, August 27, 2018;

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CFNAI

The CFNAI-MA3, with current reading of .05:

CFNAIMA3_8-27-18 .05

source:  Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago Fed National Activity Index: Three Month Moving Average [CFNAIMA3], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, August 27, 2018;

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CFNAIMA3

Another broad-based economic indicator that implies a weaker growth is that of the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index.)  Below is a two-year chart of the index through September 8, 2018, with a value of .1034, as of the September 13 update:

ADS Index 9-8-18 .1034

source:  Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index)

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Other Charts Indicating U.S. Economic Weakness

Below are a small sampling of other 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 August had a last value of $219,115 Million.  Shown below is  the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -3.2%, last updated September 13, 2018:

MTSR133FMS_9-13-18 219115 -3.2 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 August 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Federal Government Current Tax Receipts:  Personal Current Taxes

Another measure that depicts weakness is that of “Federal government current tax receipts: Personal Current Taxes.”  Through the second quarter the value is $1605.803 Billion Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR).  Shown below is the chart, displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value of 0%, last updated August 29, 2018:

A074RC1Q027SBEA_8-29-18 1605.803 0 Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal government current tax receipts: Personal current taxes [A074RC1Q027SBEA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed September 10, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/A074RC1Q027SBEA

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The Yield Curve

Many people believe that the Yield Curve is a leading economic indicator for the United States economy.

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

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

As an indication of the yield curve (i.e. a yield curve proxy), below is a weekly chart from January 1, 1990 through September 13, 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 September 13, 2018 closing value of .21%.  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 Proxy as of 9-13-18

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Auto Sales

Auto sales have experienced significant growth over the post-2009 period. The current reading (through August, updated on September 7) is 16.596 million vehicles SAAR:

Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks [ALTSALES], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed September 10, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/ALTSALES

Here is the same measure on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis, with value .9%:

Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks Percent Change From Year Ago

I believe that many factors indicate that auto sales have peaked.  While this peaking will have vast economic implications, there are many other factors concerning auto sales that are worrisome.  While an exhaustive discussion of the topic would be exceedingly lengthy, various notable factors include the degree to which (ultra-) cheap financing and relaxed financing terms are aiding sales, as well as various aspects of pricing and discounting.

__

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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2904.18 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – August 2018

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 August 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 3.0% GDP growth in 2018 and 2.4% GDP growth in 2019.  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 July had a last value of $225,266 Million.  Shown below is  the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -2.9%, last updated August 10, 2018:

MTSR133FMS_8-10-18 225266 -2.9 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 August 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Taxes On Corporate Income

Another measure that depicts weakness is that of “Federal government current tax receipts: Taxes on corporate income.”  Through the first quarter the value is $149.029 Billion.  Shown below is the chart, last updated July 27, 2018:

B075RC1Q027SBEA_7-27-18 149.029

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal government current tax receipts: Taxes on corporate income [B075RC1Q027SBEA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;  accessed August 9, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/B075RC1Q027SBEA

Here is a chart of the measure, on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value of -48.6%, through the first quarter, last updated July 27, 2018:

B075RC1Q027SBEA Percent Change From Year Ago

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The Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index)

While the 2nd quarter GDP (Advance Estimate)(pdf) was 4.1%, there are other broad-based economic indicators that seem to imply a weaker growth rate.

Among the broad-based economic indicators that imply weaker growth is that of the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index.)  Below is a two-year chart of the index through August 4, 2018, with a value of .047, as of the August 8 update:

ADS Index

source:  Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index)

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Total Construction Spending:  Commercial

“Total Private Construction Spending: Commercial” is a measure of construction exhibiting weak YoY growth.   This measure through June had a last value of $90,991 Million.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with a value of 1.1%, last updated August 1, 2018:

TLCOMCONS_8-1-18 90991 1.1 Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Bureau of the Census, Total Construction Spending: Commercial [TLCOMCONS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed August 9, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TLCOMCONS

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Real Hourly Earnings

The level and growth rates of wages and household earnings continues to be (highly) problematical.  I have extensively discussed these worrisome trends in income and earnings.

As seen in many measures the problem is chronic (i.e long-term) in nature.

Shown below is a chart depicting the 12-month percent change in real average hourly and weekly earnings for private sector employees from June 2008 – June 2018.  (July 2018 was unchanged from June 2018, and it decreased .2% YoY (i.e. compared to July 2017.))  As seen in the chart below, growth in this measure over the time period depicted has been intermittent, volatile, and, especially since 2017, weak:

Real Average Hourly Earnings

source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Real average hourly earnings unchanged from June 2017 to June 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/real-average-hourly-earnings-unchanged-from-june-2017-to-june-2018.htm(visited August 10, 2018).

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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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2833.28 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – July 2018

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 July 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 2.9% GDP growth in 2018.  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 June had a last value of $316,278 Million.  Shown below is  the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -6.6%, last updated July 12, 2018:

MTSR133FMS

source:  U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed July 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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The Yield Curve

Many people believe that the Yield Curve is a leading economic indicator for the United States economy.

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

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

As an indication of the yield curve (i.e. a yield curve proxy), below is a weekly chart from January 1, 1990 through July 11, 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 July 11, 2018 closing value of .27%.  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 proxy

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U.S. Auto Sales

U.S. auto sales have experienced significant growth over the post-2009 period as seen in the chart shown below. The current reading (through June) is 17.381 million vehicles SAAR.  Of great economic importance is whether auto sales have peaked, which I believe has occurred, as well as other problematical characteristics of the light vehicle market.  A long-term chart is shown below:

Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks [ALTSALES], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 10, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/ALTSALES

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Vehicle Miles Traveled

I find the flagging growth trend in the “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (NSA) measure since 2015 to be notable.

“Vehicle Miles Traveled” through April had a last value of 272,442 Million.  Shown below is  the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -.2%, last updated July 2, 2018:

TRFVOLUSM227NFWA_7-2-18 -.2 Percent Change From Year Ago

source:   U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Vehicle Miles Traveled [TRFVOLUSM227NFWA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TRFVOLUSM227NFWA

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Alternate Growth Trend Measures

Another facet of economic activity is seen in the ratio of the Conference Board’s Coincident Composite Index to the Lagging Composite Index.  I interpret the trends seen in this measure to be disconcerting, as the ratio has generally been sinking for years:

Conference Board Coincident To Lagging Ratio

source:  Haver’s June 21, 2018 post (“U.S. Leading Economic Indicators’ Rate of Increase Eases“)

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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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2798.29 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – June 2018

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 June 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 2.9% GDP growth in 2018.  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 May had a last value of $217,075 Million.  Shown below is  displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -9.7%, last updated June 12, 2018:

Monthly Treasury 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 June 13, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Underperformance Of Consumer Staples Stocks

In the March 23, 2017 post (“‘Hidden’ Weakness In Consumer Spending?“) I wrote of various indications that consumer spending may be (substantially) less than what is depicted by various mainstream indicators, including overall retail sales.

One recent development that appears to be a problematical aspect of consumer spending is the performance of the consumer staples stocks.  As one can see in the chart below, there has been a marked relative weakness in these stocks (with the XLP serving as a proxy).  The chart shows a 10-year daily depiction of the XLP (top plot), the S&P500 (middle plot) and XLP:S&P500 ratio (bottom plot.)  While there can be various interpretations and reasons for this underperformance, it does appear to represent a “red flag” especially considering other problematical indications concerning consumer spending:

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

XLP v S&P500 chart

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Unemployment

I have written extensively concerning unemployment, as the current and future unemployment issue is of tremendous importance.

The consensus belief is that employment is robust, citing total nonfarm payroll growth and the current unemployment rate of 3.8%.  However, my analyses continue to indicate that the conclusion that employment is strong is incorrect.  While the unemployment rate indicates that unemployment is (very) low, closer examination indicates that this metric is, for a number of reasons, highly misleading.

My analyses indicate that the underlying dynamics of the unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome, especially with regard to the future.  These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding, especially as how from an “all-things-considered” standpoint they will evolve in an economic and societal manner.  I have recently written of the current and future U.S. employment situation on the “U.S. Employment Trends” page.

While there are many charts that can be shown, one that depicts a worrisome trend is the  Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate for those with a Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over.  Among disconcerting aspects of this measure is the long-term (most notably the post-2009) trend, especially given this demographic segment.

The current value as of the June 1, 2018 update (reflecting data through the May employment report) is 74.1%:

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor's Degree and Higher, 25 years and over

source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over [LNS11327662], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11327662

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Loan Demand And Related Measures

As seen in previous updates, various aspects of lending growth and related measures have shown a marked slowing in the growth rate.  Here is a measure, Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Commercial and Industrial Loans from Large and Middle-Market Firms, that shows a decline:

Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Commercial and Industrial Loans from Large and Middle-Market Firms

source:  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Commercial and Industrial Loans from Large and Middle-Market Firms [DRSDCILM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;  accessed June 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DRSDCILM

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Wages And Earnings

The level and growth rates of wages and household earnings continues to be (highly) problematical.  I have extensively discussed these worrisome trends in income and earnings.

As seen in many measures the problem is chronic (i.e long-term) in nature.

Shown below is a chart depicting the 12-month percent change in real average hourly and weekly earnings for private sector employees from January 2008 – April 2018.  As seen in the chart, growth in this measure over the time period depicted has been intermittent, volatile, and, especially since 2017, weak:

 12-month percent change in real average hourly and weekly earnings

source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Real average hourly earnings up 0.2 percent for all private employees from April 2017 to April 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/real-average-hourly-earnings-up-0-point-2-percent-for-all-private-employees-april-2017-to-april-2018.htm(visited June 11, 2018).

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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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2786.85 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – May 2018

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 May 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus among various economists is for 2.9% GDP growth in 2018.  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 April had a last value of $510,447 Million.  Shown below is  displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 12.0%, last updated May 10, 2018:

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 May 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Commercial And Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks

“Commercial And Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks”  through April had a last value of $2162.8113 Billion.  The growth in such loans continues to be at a relatively low level.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 3.3%, last updated May 11, 2018:

BUSLOANS Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Commercial and Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks [BUSLOANS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis May 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/BUSLOANS

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Underperformance Of Consumer Staples Stocks

In the March 23, 2017 post (“‘Hidden’ Weakness In Consumer Spending?“) I wrote of various indications that consumer spending may be (substantially) less than what is depicted by various mainstream indicators, including overall retail sales.

One recent development that appears to be a problematical aspect of consumer spending is the performance of the consumer staples stocks.  As one can see in the chart below, there has been a marked relative weakness in these stocks (with the XLP serving as a proxy).  The chart shows a 10-year daily depiction of the XLP (top plot), the S&P500 (middle plot) and XLP:S&P500 ratio (bottom plot.)  While there can be various interpretations and reasons for this underperformance, it does appear to represent a “red flag” especially considering other problematical indications concerning consumer spending:

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

XLP chart

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The Yield Curve

Many people believe that the Yield Curve is a leading economic indicator for the United States economy.

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

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

As an indication of the yield curve (i.e. a yield curve proxy), below is a weekly chart from January 1, 1990 through May 11, 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 May 11, 2017 closing value of .43%.  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 proxy

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Unemployment

I have written extensively concerning unemployment, as the current and future unemployment issue is of tremendous importance.

The consensus belief is that employment is robust, citing total nonfarm payroll growth and the current unemployment rate of 3.9%.  However, my analyses continue to indicate that the conclusion that employment is strong is incorrect.  While the unemployment rate indicates that unemployment is (very) low, closer examination indicates that this metric is, for a number of reasons, highly misleading.

My analyses indicate that the underlying dynamics of the unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome, especially with regard to the future.  These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding, especially as how from an “all-things-considered” standpoint they will evolve in an economic and societal manner.  I have recently written of the current and future U.S. employment situation on the “U.S. Employment Trends” page.

While there are many charts that can be shown, one that depicts a worrisome trend is the Employment Population Ratio for those ages 25 – 54 years.  The Employment-Population Ratio is the Civilian Employed divided by the Civilian Noninstitutional Population.  Among disconcerting aspects of this measure is the long-term (most notably the post-2000) trend, especially given this demographic segment.

The current value as of the May 4, 2018 update (reflecting data through the April employment report) is 79.2%:

Employment Population Ratio: 25 - 54 years

Data Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Population Ratio: 25 – 54 years [LNS12300060], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed May 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS12300060

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U.S. Auto Sales

U.S. auto sales have experienced significant growth over the post-2009 period as seen in the chart shown below. The current reading (through April) is 17.069 million vehicles SAAR.  Of great economic importance is whether auto sales have peaked, which I believe has occurred, as well as other characteristics of the light vehicle market.  A long-term chart is shown below:

Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks [ALTSALES], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed May 9, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/ALTSALES

Here is the same measure on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” measure, with a current reading of .6% .  As one can see growth has been intermittent in nature since early 2016:

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Percent Change From Year Ago

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Domestic Auto Production

Another notable measure is that of “Domestic Auto Production,” defined in FRED as:

Domestic auto production is defined as all autos assembled in the U.S.

Here is “Domestic Auto Production,” depicted below, through March 2018 with a last value of 260.0 thousand, last updated April 30, 2018:

Domestic Auto Production

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Domestic Auto Production [DAUPSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed May 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DAUPSA

__

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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2727.72 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – April 2018

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 April 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus among various economists is for 2.8% GDP growth in 2018.  However,  there are other broad-based economic indicators that seem to imply a weaker growth rate.  There has been a significant lowering of estimates for 1st Quarter GDP growth as seen in the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDP Now (April 16, 2018 estimate of 1.9%) releases.

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:

Rail Freight Carloads

“Rail Freight Carloads” continues to show a downward progression.  Shown below is a chart with data through January (last value of 1,104,080, updated March 21, 2018):

Rail Freight Carloads chart

source:  U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Rail Freight Carloads [RAILFRTCARLOADSD11], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;  accessed April 11, 2017:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/RAILFRTCARLOADSD11

Here is the same measure on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis, with value -2.8%:

Rail Freight Carloads Percent Change From Year Ago

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Auto Sales

Auto sales have experienced significant growth over the post-2009 period. The current reading (through February, updated on March 29) is 16.962 million vehicles:

Light vehicle sales

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks [ALTSALES], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed April 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/ALTSALES

Here is the same measure on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis, with value -2.1%:

ALTSALES Percent Change From Year Ago

I believe that many factors indicate that auto sales have peaked.  While this peaking will have vast economic implications, there are many other factors concerning auto sales that are worrisome.  While an exhaustive discussion of the topic would be exceedingly lengthy, various notable factors include the degree to which (ultra-) cheap financing and relaxed financing terms are aiding sales, as well as various aspects of pricing and discounting.

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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 March had a last value of $210,832 Million.  Shown below is  displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -2.7%, last updated April 12, 2018:

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 April 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Commercial And Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks

“Commercial And Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks”  through March had a last value of $2138.4559 Billion.  The growth in such loans continues to decline.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 2.6%, last updated April 13, 2018:

Commercial and Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Commercial and Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks [BUSLOANS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis April 16, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/BUSLOANS

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Inflation Trends

Although there has been widespread recent concern about impending inflation, as well as indications of higher inflation in some price measures, I continue to believe that deflation (as defined by when the CPI goes below zero) will occur.

Current inflation levels and the possibility of deflation is a vastly complex topic, and as such isn’t suitably discussed in a brief manner.  I have discussed the issue of deflation extensively as it will have critical and wide-ranging economic implications.  As I have stated in past commentaries, my analyses indicate that surveys or “market-based” measures concerning deflation will not provide adequate “advance warning” of this deflation.

For reference, here is the “Core PCE” measure as of the March 29, 2018 update, showing data through February, with a current reading on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis of 1.6%:

Personal Consumption Expenditures Excluding Food and Energy (Chain-Type Price Index) YoY

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures Excluding Food and Energy (Chain-Type Price Index) [PCEPILFE], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed April 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCEPILFE

__

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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2677.84 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – March 2018

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 February 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus among various economists is for 2.8% GDP growth in 2018.  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 greater degrees of weakness and/or other worrisome trends, and a brief comment for each:

Employment

I have written extensively concerning unemployment, as the current and future unemployment issue is of tremendous importance yet in many ways is widely misunderstood.

The consensus belief is that employment is robust, with total nonfarm payroll growth and the current unemployment rate of 4.1% being widely cited.  However, my analyses continue to indicate that the conclusion that employment is strong is incorrect.  Of particular note is the unemployment rate, which indicates that unemployment is (very) low.  Closer examination indicates that this metric is, for a number of reasons, highly misleading.

My analyses indicate that the underlying dynamics of the unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome, especially with regard to the future.  These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding, especially as how from an “all-things-considered” standpoint they will progress in an economic and societal manner.  I have recently written of the current and future U.S. employment situation on the “U.S. Employment Trends” page.

While there are many charts that can be shown, one that depicts a weak long-term growth trend is the “Employment Level: 25 to 54 years, Men” measure.  The current value as of the March 9, 2018 update (reflecting data through the February employment report) is 53.764 million:

LNS12000061

source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Level: 25 to 54 years, Men [LNS12000061], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed March 14, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS12000061

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Wages And Earnings

The level and growth rates of wages and household earnings continues to be (highly) problematical.  I have extensively discussed these worrisome trends in income and earnings.

As seen in many measures, including that seen below, the problem is chronic (i.e long-term) in nature.  Shown below is the “Employed full time: Median usual weekly real earnings: Wage and salary workers: 16 years and over” measure.  The current value as of the January 17, 2018 update (reflecting data through the fourth quarter of 2017) is $345:

LES1252881600Q

source:   U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed full time: Median usual weekly real earnings: Wage and salary workers: 16 years and over [LES1252881600Q], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed March 14, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LES1252881600Q

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Total Federal Receipts

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

“Total Federal Receipts” through February had a last value of $155,623 Million.  Shown below is  displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -9.4%, last updated March 12, 2018:

Total Federal Receipts

source:  U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed March 14, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

__

Domestic Auto Production

Another notable measure is that of “Domestic Auto Production,” defined in FRED as:

Domestic auto production is defined as all autos assembled in the U.S.

Here is “Domestic Auto Production,” depicted below, through January 2018 with a last value of 233.5 thousand, last updated March 2, 2018:

Domestic Auto Production

source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Domestic Auto Production [DAUPSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed March 14, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DAUPSA

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Alternate Growth Trend Measures

Another facet of economic activity is seen in the ratio of the  Conference Board’s Coincident Composite Index to the Lagging Composite Index.  I interpret the trends seen in this measure to be disconcerting, as the ratio has generally been sinking for years:

Conference Board Coincident to Lagging Ratio

source:  Haver’s February 22, 2018 post (“U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Surge“)

__

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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2749.48 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – February 2018

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.  The Gross Domestic Product Q4 2017 Advance Estimate (pdf) of January 26, 2018 was 2.6%, and as seen in the February 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus among various economists is for 2.8% GDP growth in 2018.  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 greater degrees of weakness and/or other worrisome trends, and a brief comment for each:

Total Private Construction Spending

Various measures of construction continue to show weak growth and/or contraction.

“Total Private Construction Spending” through December had a last value of $963,247 Million.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 2.1%, last updated February 1, 2018:

TLPRVCONS Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Bureau of the Census, Total Private Construction Spending [TLPRVCONS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis accessed February 9, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TLPRVCONS

Total Federal Receipts

“Total Federal Receipts” growth continues to be intermittent in nature since 2015.

“Total Federal Receipts” through January had a last value of $361,038 Million.  Shown below is  displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 4.9%, last updated February 12, 2018:

Monthly Total Federal Receipts

source:  U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis February 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Commercial And Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks

“Commercial And Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks” through January had a last value of $2126.943 Billion.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 1.2%, last updated February 9, 2018:

BUSLOANS_2-9-18 Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Commercial and Industrial Loans, All Commercial Banks [BUSLOANS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis February 9, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/BUSLOANS

__

Employment

I have written extensively concerning unemployment, as the current and future unemployment issue is of tremendous importance.

The consensus belief is that employment is robust, citing total nonfarm payroll growth and the current unemployment rate of 4.1%.  However, my analyses continue to indicate that the conclusion that employment is strong is incorrect.  Of particular note is the unemployment rate, which indicates that unemployment is (very) low.  Closer examination indicates that this metric is, for a number of reasons, highly misleading.

My analyses indicate that the underlying dynamics of the unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome, especially with regard to the future.  These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding, especially as how from an “all-things-considered” standpoint they will progress in an economic and societal manner.  I have recently written of the current and future U.S. employment situation on the “U.S. Employment Trends” page.

While there are many charts that can be shown, one that depicts a worrisome trend is the Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate for those with Bachelor’s Degrees and Higher, Ages 25 and Above.  The current value as of the February 2, 2018 update (reflecting data through the January employment report) is 73.4%:

LNS11327662

source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over [LNS11327662], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, February 9, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11327662

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Productivity Measures

While I have expressed concerns about the overall definitions and value of productivity measures in the past, I do find the current-era trends to be disconcerting.

One such chart that shows a subdued level of a productivity measure is that of “Manufacturing, Real Output Per Hour.” Through the fourth quarter the last value was 109.101.  Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 1.1%, last updated February 1, 2018:

OPHMFG Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Manufacturing Sector: Real Output Per Hour of All Persons [OPHMFG], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis February 12, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/OPHMFG

__

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.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2656.00 as this post is written