Charts Implying Economic Weakness - March 2019

|
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 - February 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 is 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 January had a last value of $339,980 Million. Shown below is the measure displayed on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis with value -5.8%, last updated March 5, 2019:

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts (MTSR133FMS), retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed March 5, 2019: Total Federal Receipts

Regional Manufacturing Surveys

Various Federal Reserve regional manufacturing surveys are indicating either a significant weakening in growth or a decline in various aspects of activity.

Below is a chart of various regional manufacturing surveys, depicted on a three-month moving average, from Doug Short's site post of February 28, 2019, titled "February Regional Fed Manufacturing Overview":

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 December had a last value of $86,188 Million. Shown below is the measure displayed on a "Percent Change From Year Ago" basis with a value of -3.2%, last updated March 4, 2019:

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Total Construction Spending: Commercial (TLCOMCONS), retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed March 4,2019: 2019: Total Construction Spending: Commercial

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

Among the broad-based economic indicators that seem to imply subdued or intermittent growth is that of the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index). Below is a chart of the index from the year 2000 through March 2, 2019, with a value of -.4717, as of the March 8 update:

ADS Index

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

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI)

Another broad-based economic indicator that has been implying weaker growth or mild contraction is the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI).

The February 2019 Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) (last updated as of February 25, 2019):

The CFNAI with current reading of -.43:

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI), retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, February 25, 2019: Chicago Fed National Activity Index

The CFNAI-MA3 with current reading of 0:

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, February 25, 2019: Chicago Fed National Activity Index: Three Month Moving Average

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 2,743.07 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.