The Streettalk/Mauldin Economic Output Index
Last year I was having a discussion with Lance Roberts of Streettalk Advisors in Houston about how to build an indicator that might give us a clue as to the direction of the economy. Most indicators use one or two data points and thus can be suspect.
For instance, the Philly Fed Economic Index went from 3.2 in July to -30.7 in August, helping to tank the market. Almost every subcomponent (new orders, employment, etc.) was not just down but negative. This was truly a shocker. You can see the gory details at http://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/regional-economy/business-outlook-survey/2011/bos0811.cfm.
The Empire Index (New York) went from -3.8 to -7.7. The Empire Index suggests that the August ISM manufacturing number will be 49, or in a state of negative growth. The Philly Index suggests a very dismal 42, which if true would suggest we are already in recession. But these are regional indexes.
Now, just for fun, let’s look at a combined index that David Rosenberg created from the Philly Index plus the Michigan Consumer Confidence Index. (Those of us old enough can remember Jack Nicholson playing the Joker in Batman back in 1989. When Batman escaped with the help of something from his tool kit, Nicholson said, “Where does he get all those wonderful toys?” When I read Rosie’s newsletter, I have the same reaction. “Where does he get all those wonderful charts?” He swears he makes them himself. I stand in awe.)
Notice that with Rosie’s combined index where it is today, we are either at the beginning of a recession or already in one. And the Philly Fed Index is consistent with a 90% chance of a recession.
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