It's Not an Economic Cycle, It's a 'Fed Cycle'

by: Terence Chan

I haven't done this update for awhile, but the Weekly Leading Index from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues to indicate a 'V'-shaped recovery for the US economy. The Coincident Index has just come off the lows, while the Lagging Index is doing what it should do and is still in the doldrums. For those not familiar with ECRI's approach, you can check it out here.

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My belief in the validity of these leading indicators is predicated on my belief in cyclicality. While economic cycles are not exactly identical to each other (you could have different levels of employment, inflation, productivity, interest rates), they are still composed of peaks and troughs, and right now, as shown by the Coincident Index above, we are still nearer to the troughs.

On the other hand, the pundits that are touting a "new normal" wherein they see the economy experiencing sub-par growth for years on out (due to the obvious reasons they throw out like a paradigm shift in consumer spending, leverage, etc.) are calling into question this concept of "cyclicality". My response to that is so long as the US Treasury and Fed are running the show, it's the same asset bubble and bust cycle all over again. Some things never change.