Recession Indicators

The NBER committee that officially determines the dates for recessions has a few favorite, or key indicators that it gives much more weight.

One of the indicators is real manufacturing and trade sales. Not many people pay much attention to it because it does not have its own press release and wall street traders do not bet on it. It is an old Business Conditions Digest (BCD) that use to be published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. But when they quit doing the BCD and the leading indicator the Conference Board took over responsibility of publishing this series because it is a component of the coincident index. But as the following chart it has a very good record of signaling recession turning points.

But something strange has been happening to this index over the last few months of 2007. It has been improving and actually implies that growth may be accelerating, not slowing.

One probable reason for the recent strength is that it includes exports, where growth is very strong.

But if you think the NBER is on the verge of declaring that we are entering a recession this indicator suggest otherwise.