Macro-Markets Risk Index: Business Cycle Risk Remains Low

by: James Picerno

A markets-based profile of US economic conditions suggests that business cycle risk remains low. The Macro-Markets Risk Index (MMRI) closed May 28 at 15.6%--well above the danger zone of 0% and within the roughly 10%-to-17% range that's prevailed so far in 2013. When MMRI falls under 0%, recession risk is elevated; readings above 0% equate with economic growth.

MMRI represents a subset of the indicators in the Economic Trend & Momentum indices, a pair benchmarks that track the economy's broad trend for signs of major turning points in the business cycle. Analyzing the market-price components separately offers a real-time evaluation of macro conditions, according to the "wisdom of the crowd." By contrast, conventional economic data series are published with a time lag. MMRI is intended as a supplement for developing perspective on the current month's economic trend until all the economic numbers are published.

MMRI is a daily average of four indicators, calculated as follows:

• US stocks (S&P 500), 250-trading day % change
• Credit spread (BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Option-Adjusted Spread), inverted 260-trading day % change 1
• Treasury yield curve (10-yr Treasury yield less 3-month T-bill yield), daily, no transformation
• Oil prices (iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (NYSEARCA:OIL)), inverted 250-trading day % change

For additional information on MMRI, see this post, which introduced the index. Meanwhile, here's how MMRI compares on a daily basis since August 2007:

Here's how MMRI stacks up so far this year, through May 28:

1. The credit spread data uses a 260-day window rather than a 250-day window as a proxy for one-year changes because the High Yield Master II Index data set is published on weekends as well as weekdays. As a result, a slightly longer time window is required to approximate a one-year period that aligns with the one-year data for stocks and oil prices, which aren't published on weekends. ^