AIER’s Business Cycle Conditions Leading Indicators index reached a perfect 100 reading in March after coming in at 92 in February. The March result is the first 100 since January 2014.
Business Conditions Monthly
AIER’s Business Cycle Conditions Leading Indicators index held at 92 in December, matching the highest level since 2014 and the best multi-month performance since a run of four readings of 100 between October 2013 and January 2014.
AIER’s Business Cycle Conditions Leading Indicators index jumped to 92 in November from a reading of 79 in the prior month. The Roughly Coincident Indicators index rebounded to a perfect 100 after seven consecutive months at 100 were followed by a 92 in October.
The AIER’s Leading Indicators Index increased again in August to a reading of 88 from 83 in the prior month. The Coincident Indicators Index remained at a perfect 100 for a sixth month while the Lagging Indicators Index held at 50 (see chart below).
The AIER Business Cycle Conditions Leaders index rebounded in July to a reading of 83 from 75 in the prior month. The Coinciders index remained at a perfect 100 for a fifth month while the Laggers index dropped to 50 from 58 in June (chart 1).
The AIER Business Cycle Conditions Leaders index fell again in June, to a reading of 75, the second monthly decline in a row. The Coinciders index remained at 100 for a fourth month, while the Laggers index dropped to 58 from 75 in May.
The AIER Business-Cycle Conditions Leaders index fell slightly to 79 in May, the first decline since July 2016. The Coinciders index remained at a perfect 100 for a third month, while the Laggers index held at 75 for the second month.
Economic data over the past month show mostly favorable underlying trends. The labor market remains the cornerstone of the expansion, with job creation and wage gains boosting aggregate personal income. Consumer spending continues to trend higher with some pockets of weakness.
The AIER Business-Cycle Conditions Leaders index rose to 83 in March, the highest level in two and a half years (Chart 1). The Coinciders index rose to a perfect 100, the highest level since September 2015, while the Laggers index pulled back to 83 from 92 in the prior month.
The U.S. economy continues to expand at a solid pace. The AIER Business-Cycle Conditions indexes all posted results well above the neutral 50 level in the latest month, February. Our Leaders registered 75 for the third consecutive month (Chart 1).
The U.S. economy performed solidly in 2016, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Our index of Primary Leading Indicators also remained well into expansionary territory in the latest month, suggesting a low risk of recession in the months ahead. With the Federal Reserve’s slow approach to a tightening monetary policy, the greatest risk is that we don’t know what to expect from Trump administration policies.
The outlook for the U.S. economy continues to improve. Our index of Primary Leading Indicators rose again in the latest month, the labor market continues to show strength, financial conditions remain favorable, and business and consumer confidence are broadly upbeat.
Business conditions continue to improve. Our index of Primary Leading Indicators rose for the third straight month, reaching its highest level since September 2015. Contributing to the increase were improvements in consumer expectations and real new orders for core capital goods.
Consumer spending slowed to a 2.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter from a strong 4.3 percent pace in the second quarter, according to the latest data on real gross domestic product from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. On a year-over-year basis, personal consumption expenditures, a measure of real consumer spending, grew at a 2.6 percent rate, down slightly from a 2.7 percent pace in the second quarter (Chart 1).
Excessive debt played a major role in the Great Recession, from December 2007 to June 2009. In the seven years since the recession ended, home prices have rebounded, and households have significantly reduced their debt load. Only recently have households begun to increase their overall debt, which has inched up just 2 percent from when the recession began. Debt growth for corporate and small businesses has been more significant, rising 36.5 percent and 29 percent, respectively.
The U.S. economy continues to expand at a pace below its long-term average. Revised data show the economy grew at a 1.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter compared with a long-term average annual rate of 3.2 percent. Consumer spending, a key driver, rose 4.4 percent and contributed 2.9 percentage points to overall economic growth. Business fixed investment remains weak, hampered by poor performance in the domestic energy industry, but our conclusion remains that it may well improve in the second half of 2016.