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Many Indicators Deny Recession is Imminent

Transportation of goods are among the most reliable indicators of the economy in the near term (coming months) and they are continuing to show moderate year-over-year growth.  Both trucking tonnage and rail traffic data released this week continue to show an economy that is growing steadily, albeit weakly.  A negative in November was container traffic which declined indicating reduced trade.

McKinsey reported this week that corporate CEOs are more optimistic than they were during the summer, but still below the sentiment in the first half of the year.

Industrial Production continues to show steady improvement, although it is still far from recovering 2007 levels.

Housing news has improved, again only modestly, and not for the all the reasons that would indicate the economy is out of the woods. New home sales improved but still remained at levels not seen in half a century, and when adjusted for population. are at levels equivalent to The Great Depression and World War II. Existing home sales are in a clear uptrend for over a year while prices have continued to drop. The uptrend has become more clearly evident only after the NAR (National Association of Realtors) significantly reduced data from the prior years. And there was much rejoicing this week when residential construction reported improved volume, but it was a result of increased apartment construction to house all the people who have lost their homes or can't afford to buy the "bargains" that are now on the market.
And consumer confidence is still in the tank, although at levels higher than earlier this year. However, the current level of confidence is similar to the bottom of previous recessions. Perhaps the fact that, adjusted for inflation, per capita personal income is down over the past five years is a primary factor in sentiment, along with the worst unemployment problem in 75 years.

So there are few signs of a new recession. Unfortunately there are also few signs of recovery from the last one once you get past corporate profits and windfall increases in personal income at the very top.