Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Economy Is Deteriorating at an Extremely Fast Rate

In case you missed it, today was the release of the Philly Fed Survey, which was another disastrous economic datapoint.  Expectations were for a reading of +7, indicating minor growth, instead it came in at -7.7, indicating contraction.

Looking at this chart, the thing that pops out at me is how fast both the current activity and the future activity indices (expectations for activity in the next 6 months, which as you can see people always think things will either be the same or better) have been collapsing over the last 3 months.  So I decided to look at the historical data, that goes back to 1968, to see when were the other times the 3 month change was this bad.  The problem is, it's actually never been this bad.  Below is the chart for the 3 month change in the Current Activity Index:

The last time the 3 month change even came close to the level of deterioration we've seen (51.1 points) was the 4th quarter of 1974 (50.5 points).  This was right after Nixon resigned in disgrace and was a period when we were dealing with the ramifications of our loss in Vietnam, a stock market crash and an oil embargo.  Also, we are currently dwarfing the deterioration we saw in the 4th quarter of 2008 (remember how we all felt the world was falling apart then?) which had a 3 month change of 34.7 points.  What is even worse is that the current 3 month change is greater than the change we saw in this index between November 2007 and November 2008, which was a decline of 47.4 points.  Now let's take a look at the same analysis with the Future Activity Index, which looks 6 months out:

Yup, that chart is correct, since 1968, we've never had a deterioration in this index that even came close to what we are seeing right now.  There really is no way to sugar coat this, it is a disastrous reading.  Also, the actual absolute reading itself is the lowest since the 4th quarter of 2008 when the world was coming apart at the seams.

It would be nice if we had a President who actually wanted to do something about the economy.  After watching the GOP debate the other night, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't mind if any of them were President.  They would all do a better job than the current joker whose idea of stimulus is taking money from the productive members of society and giving it to unskilled labor so they can dig holes.

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