Fall in Capacity Utilization reflects the Effective Demand Limit

The Effective Demand limit upon the economy is not a very visible concept in the econo-blogosphere. Yet, it represents a limit upon the utilization of labor and capital toward the end of a business cycle. When real GDP reaches its effective demand limit, normally we would see capacity utilization peak and start to fall.

Capacity utilization has now fallen for 5 months straight with the new data released today.

update capacity util

So does this continued fall in capacity utilization reflect the effective demand limit? From my own measure using profit-maximization estimations… yes.

Here is a graph which plots employment (1 – unemployment rate) with capacity utilization.

update 3d monthly

The graph shows the path to increasing profits in the economy. Profits increase as the data approach the effective demand limit and the profit max lines. Employing more capital and labor increases profits. When the limit lines are reached, then profits increase by rising up and to the left on the profit max line where capacity utilization falls while employment rises.

Profit potential is measured by this equation…

Profit potential = (U + C) – a*(U2 * C2)

U = (1 – unemployment rate)
C = Capacity utilization
a = effective demand limit – 2.473 * effective demand limit + 2……. (I have been estimating the current effective demand limit around 75%.)

Back in December 2014 I wrote  (link) that the data in the plot above had reached the effective demand limit and that I would be watching to see if capacity utilization started to fall. Well, capacity utilization has fallen every month since. I explain the fall by the graph above.

The graph implies that the economy has reached my estimated effective demand limit and is now reducing capacity utilization to push profits higher. However, pushing profits up by reducing capacity utilization, as looks to be happening, is a delicate situation. The economy develops some instability and creative measures have to be taken to keep the economy out of a recession. It is also a time that bubbles can more easily form.