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Charts Implying Economic Weakness - January 2020

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by: Ted Kavadas
Ted Kavadas
Economic analysis, macroeconomic, corporate profitability, markets
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 - December 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 December 2019 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey, the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 2.2% GDP growth in 2019 and 1.8% GDP growth in 2020. 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 monthly value of $335,805 Million. Shown below is the measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value 7.4%, last updated January 13, 2020:

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 13, 2020: Total Federal Receipts

Value Of Manufacturers’ New Orders For Consumer Goods Industries (ACOGNO)

A measure for consumer goods exhibiting a recent weakening (on a YoY basis) growth trend is the “Value of Manufacturers’ New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries” (ACOGNO). Shown below is this measure with the last value of $212,644 Million through November (last updated January 7, 2020):

Below is this ACOGNO measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with a value of .6%:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Value of Manufacturers’ New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries [ACOGNO], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 7, 2020: Value of Manufacturers' New Orders for Consumer Goods Industries

Average Weekly Overtime Hours Of Production And Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing (AWOTMAN)

Various U.S. manufacturing measures continue to indicate either a significant weakening in growth or a decline in various aspects of activity. An indication of weakening manufacturing activity is overtime hours. Shown below is the “Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing” measure (with the last value of 4.2 hours through December) displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with a value of -6.7%, last updated January 10, 2020:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Manufacturing [AWOTMAN], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 13, 2019: Average Weekly Overtime Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees, Manufacturing

Motor Vehicle Retail Sales: Heavy Weight Trucks (HTRUCKSSA)

Sales of “Heavy Weight Trucks” (HTRUCKSSA) are once again contracting on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis. Shown below is this measure with the last value of 38.499 Thousand through November, last updated December 20, 2019:

Below is this measure displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with a value of -7.8%:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Motor Vehicle Retail Sales: Heavy Weight Trucks [HTRUCKSSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed January 7, 2020: Motor Vehicle Retail Sales: Heavy Weight Trucks (HTRUCKSSA)

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 3288.13 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.