Recession indicators

January 19, 2008

If you’ve been surfing the economics blogosphere recently, you’ve likely seen charts of various economic indicators pointing towards a recession. Forthwith, my (growing) collection. Lots more of these out there. If you’ve got one to add, send it our way:

YoY change in unemployment, by month. From the NYT:

Credit Card Trends, (via the NYT, hat tip Mish):

Manufacturing sentiment. The Philadelphia Fed’s general economic index:

Money Supply (using the “M Prime” calculation of the Von Mises Institute, again thanks to Mish). Check out that link for a full explanation of the M Prime money supply calculation. Fascinating read.

Housing Starts and Completions (hat tip CR):

The Philly Fed’s calculation of states with increasing activity. Thanks to CR.


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If you want to live in a world of government regulation then why don’t you move to Russia? After more than 50 years I would have thought we purged you Reds from our society

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Cowboy capitalism is a zero sum game. Regulation is the false hope that enough fire walls are installed between the capitalist pirates and the working class/middle class to slow down or provide some redress for the thievery that results from unregulated capitalism. Economies have always been regulated in various ways, but are generally rig in their regulation to favor the capital class. Glass-Steagall was an attempt among thieves to agree on the game. Small investors were left out of the equation.

Posted by Butch | Report as abusive

I wish we could bring Volker back. We pull Energy, Food and Housing prices out of our inflation numbers and tell everybody inflation is under control. Put those 3 figures back into the calculations and inflation is going through the result.Interest rates need to go up not down. The result would be that housing prices would correct to historical prices. Savings by Americans would go up and the price of oil would drop. This housing bubble is unlike any other in history. In the past inflated home prices were just paper gains. Now equity loans have been lent out on these paper gains and are sitting on balance sheets. People now have $500K mortgages on $350K homes. The Fed’s solution is to just print more money to bail out Wall St. This is going to get real ugly. Put on your seat belts.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

$500K mortgages on $350K homesI would have said, “People have $500K mortgages on $200K homes”.In many instances, this is the truth.

Posted by Tyrone | Report as abusive

Kirk, you’ll wish YOU lived in Russia once we have to pay the piper for all the unregulated securities shenanigans. Start growing a garden now, you’ll need to eat something.

Posted by Don’t stick your finger in my butt crack | Report as abusive

As a UK resident I find it fascinating that the US is having such a bad time. We are now feeling the results of bad US and UK lending decisions in the past and we too have masses of houses with negative equity. The comments on inflation being ‘under control’ strike a chord here too as we seem to have rampant food inflation and the price of fuel is astronomical.

Posted by Charles Gill | Report as abusive

I was an employee of Smith Barney when Sanford Weill wanted his Traveler’s Group to take over Citibank and give birth to the world’s largest back: Citigroup. I was encouraged, told and even ordered to urgently call/fax/mail members of the Congressional Banking Committee and my personal congress-people in support of the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

I never drank that Kool-Aid, though. When Citigroup was born (immediately following the repeal), a pandora’s box of mega-greed was opened and Wall Street began to get plain obese, feeding on the deposits of ‘little investors’, or as Bill Gross of PIMCO refers to them, “plankton” for the big fish (like him). Check out his writings on the subject of plankton on the PIMCO website. PIMCO even has an Auction Rate Security which goes by the name of FISH which is frozen at the moment. Cleaning up the afterbirth of Citigroup and its progeny will be very painful.

Recently, I actually met Mr. Paul Volcker – in person – and told him we needed him back. He just may get back as an advisor to Barack Obama whom he has endorsed. Let’s hope he puts Volcker in his cabinet.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

Why don´t tell the truth? The real reason behind this crisis is the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. Bring it back and we will have the beginning of a real solution instead of flooding the economy with billions of dollars that will lead to the worst inflation since the 1920s in Germany. A more creative approach to finance this massive bailout is needed. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for Wall Street sins? Lets also expose the culprits: Citigroup stockholders, the Clinton Administration, and the crony capitalism of bankers and legislators of both parties. We really do not have an opposition party in America. Paul Volcker has finally made public his position during this first week of March 2009, lets bring back class Steagall!

Posted by Jaime Maya | Report as abusive

I beleive in the free enterprize system.
I beleive in a free USA.
I do not beleive the government has the right to tell me what I can and can not do.
But, in all societies, laws and regulations are needed to protect the people from others hurting them. I can not buy a Farrari and drive it 200 MPH down the interstate for laws and regulations prohibiting it due to the fact I may injure someone or worse.
The Glass Steagall Act was created to keep the banks from risk of lossing depositors money and also from a faulse market inflation.
Seems the regulations worked just fine until Clinton and his administration decided to remove the banking “safety net” and at the same time enact the houseing revitalization act.
This was a receipt for disaster and thats what we have now.
Pouring $$$ into a boat with hole does not work.
The holes need to be fixed before we can stop the leak.
The whole world (consumers and governments)has lost its confidence in the USA’s ability to to regulate the actions of the criminals that made the loans, (housing act) bundled bad loans and sold them for more than they were worth.
As for the comment about we should not be like Russia and nothing needs to be regulated by government, Im sure your doors at your home are never locked and anyone can come and take anything you have, at will, and you dont mind.
Or do you depend on laws and regulations to prevent this?
The repeal of the Glass Steagall act did just that. Our government allowed the criminals into your bank account, use your money to invest in the stockmarket with you having a say.
Bill Clinton also signed the Commodities Futures Modernization act of 2000 which allowed the AIG’s to trade without regulations.

Posted by Mark64 | Report as abusive