Charts Implying Economic Weakness - February 2019

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Includes: DDM, DIA, DOG, DXD, EEH, EPS, EQL, FEX, FWDD, HUSV, IVV, IWL, IWM, JHML, JKD, OTPIX, PSQ, QID, QLD, QQEW, QQQ, QQQE, QQXT, RSP, RWM, RYARX, RYRSX, SCAP, SCHX, SDOW, SDS, SFLA, SH, SMLL, SPDN, SPLX, SPUU, SPXE, SPXL, SPXN, SPXS, SPXT, SPXU, SPXV, SPY, SQQQ, SRTY, SSO, SYE, TNA, TQQQ, TWM, TZA, UDOW, UDPIX, UPRO, URTY, UWM, VFINX, VOO, VTWO, VV
by: Ted Kavadas
Summary

U.S. economic indicators are depicting a broad range of readings.

Many economic measures are depicting or implying weak growth or outright contraction.

Numerous highly worrisome economic trends persist.

Past updates are available.

Please note: This is the latest in a series of articles, the last being "Charts Implying Economic Weakness - January 2019."

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 2019 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey, the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 3.0% GDP growth in 2018 and 2.2% 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 December had a last value of $312,584 Million. Shown below is the measure displayed on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis with value -4.1%, last updated February 13, 2019:

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed February 13, 2019: Total Federal Receipts

Loan Demand And Related Measures

As seen in previous updates, various aspects of lending growth and related measures have shown a contraction. Shown below is a measure, Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Credit Card Loans, that shows a decline. The current value is -17.4% as of the February 4, 2019, quarterly update:

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Credit Card Loans [DEMCC], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed February 11, 2019: Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Credit Card Loans

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 November had a last value of 258,533 Million. Shown below is the measure displayed on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis with value .3%, last updated January 17, 2019:

Source: U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Vehicle Miles Traveled [TRFVOLUSM227NFWA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed February 11, 2019: Vehicle Miles Traveled

Total Construction Spending: Commercial

"Total Construction Spending: Commercial" is a measure of construction exhibiting a contraction on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis. This measure through November had a last value of $87,459 Million. Shown below is the measure displayed on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis with a value of -.4%, last updated February 5, 2019:

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Total Construction Spending: Commercial [TLCOMCONS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed February 11, 2019: Total Construction Spending: Commercial

Rail Freight Carloads

"Rail Freight Carloads" continue to show a downward progression. Shown below is a chart with data through November (last value of 1,115,510, updated January 15, 2019):

Source: U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Rail Freight Carloads [RAILFRTCARLOADSD11], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed February 12, 2019: Rail Freight Carloads

Here is the same measure on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis, with value .1%:

Other Indicators

As mentioned previously, many other indicators discussed on this site indicate weak economic growth or economic contraction, if not outright (gravely) problematical economic conditions.

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation.

SPX at 2,753.03 as this post is written.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.